Jessica and I along with colleagues at the University of Lincoln recently finished a commission for the Worshipful Company of Farmers on these issues and what we found resonates very strongly with this article which tells us:

Charities have said British farmers are increasingly at risk of suicide owing in part to uncertainty over Brexit and the impact of bad weather.

Distressed farmers have made dozens of calls to crisis networks and some have been placed on “suicide watch”, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

The NFU – the UK’s largest farming organisation, representing thousands of agricultural workers – said farmers were still struggling with the impact of the “beast from the east” snowstorms last year and the summer drought.

Alistair Mackintosh, the NFU’s Cumbrian council delegate, said: “I’ve had many worrying telephone calls just in the last two or three weeks from farmers who want to give up, and who are on suicide watch. But what I fear most is those who do not telephone you.”

Mackintosh, a sheep farmer, said he was finding it hard dealing with the cries for help. “When you’re aware of the suicide rate for UK farmers and their exceptional difficulties, there is every reason to fear we will see more such acts,” he said.

According to figures released last year by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between 2011 and 2015 approximately one agricultural worker a week killed themselves.

Adam Day, the managing director of Penrith-based The Farmer Network, said Brexit had created a “ticking timebomb” in the farming community.

He said: “These are unprecedented times. The farming community is facing a perfect storm, and greater emotional support is going to be needed. Without a Brexit deal, sheep producers have no idea whether they will be able to export this season’s lambs beyond 29 March.

“Whichever way Brexit goes, farmers are facing a £25-30 a head loss on this year’s lambs. It is going to be absolutely dire. We already have phone calls from farmers saying ‘things are not very good and we don’t know which way to turn’.

Georgina Lamb, of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute (RABI), said the charity was dealing with increasing numbers of cases. She said livestock farmers, in particular, were struggling to cope with winter feed bills and the additional cost of housing livestock.

The charity, which helps farming families in need, reports a 47% increase in the amount of money it paid out last year. It issued grants worth £2.22m to 1,248 farmers, farm workers and their dependants during 2018.

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