Commodity Watch - Importance of Rural Support
Saturday, 1 March, 2014
Rural Support provides support to farmers and rural dwellers through a helpline and signposting service of trained volunteers.
The UFU Rural Affairs Policy Committee recently looked at a general analysis of calls made to the helpline in 2013.
- During 2013 there was a 246% increase in calls compared to 2012
- 20-25% of calls were received in April and May in response to the snow
- Most calls came from counties Down and Antrim
- Demographically over 65% of callers were aged over 44 years
- 56% were male and 44% female
- 38% of calls related to farming finance and debt such as being unable to pay debts or supplier bills, farm business finance and cash flow, SFP delays, being unable to access bank loans/suspension of overdrafts/bankruptcy, legal issues, general low farm incomes
- 12% of calls related to farming specific issues such as cattle theft, disease/disposal of dead animals, livestock, vandalism, incapacity, workload and animal welfare issues
- 10% of calls related to paperwork and government schemes such as form filling, tax, SFP and compliance issues
- 5% of calls were weather related such as financial implications of bad weather, rural support emergency fund and DARD emergency helpline/compensation
- 5% of calls were health related such as physical health, alcohol addiction issues, disability and stress/mental health
These figures clearly illustrate the continued and valued importance of rural support to the farming community. Farmers face many challenges including some that are unique to the sector. Bodies such as banks and government need to take note of these issues and consider the very human implication of decisions and excessive red tape and bureaucracy.
If Northern Ireland is ‘Going for Growth’ through the agri food industry it is vital that Rural Support is sustained to help and support the health and welfare of our farming families.
If you’re feeling worried or stressed and would like to talk to someone in confidence, the Rural Support helpline operates from 8am to 11pm, seven days a week (voicemail and support options available at all other times) on 0845 606 7 607.