Farmers and smallholders who may be facing potential problems this winter must “Speak out, to help out”. A range of organisations including Farm Cornwall, Farm Community Network, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, and Addington Fund have come together to urge the farming community who may be experiencing issues, to come forward and take up the offer of advice on cash flow, forage supply, business continuity, retirement planning and pastural support.
A joint meeting, hosted by Cornwall Council cabinet member Martyn Alvey whose portfolio includes responsibility for the Council’s County Farms and Animal Health teams, brought together different organisations to harmonise the approach of offering help to Cornwall’s farmers.
Martyn Alvey said: “This autumn I have received alarming news over the considerable increase in farm costs such as animal feed, fertilizers and electricity. Combined with a shortage of forage due to the summer drought and the rise in interest rates, all these factors could lead to an extremely tough winter ahead for our farmers. These increased costs are then compounded by a slowdown in trade and the fear of animal disease outbreaks. There could be a perfect storm on many farms this winter.”
The meeting hosted representatives from Farm Cornwall, Farming Community Network, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, and Addington Fund, as well as other interested parties including the Livestock Auctioneers Association, National Farmers Union, Country Land and Business Association, Devon and Cornwall Police and The Bishop of Truro. Staff from Cornwall Council’s animal health, county farms and public health teams were also there.
Edward Richardson, Farm Cornwall’s outreach worker, who offer business advice and support said: “Over the past 12 months there have been a number of cases where farmers have not asked for help until the situation was bleak. Their individual situations caused extreme distress to all involved and this was often compounded by extreme personal financial loss - in a 6 month window, one farmer suffered substantial losses.”
Sue Gillbard the Cornwall coordinator for the Farming Community Network said: “I have volunteers who are ready to assist, they can help on missing cattle passports, farm debt, planning for your future or even just sit with you to listen to your day to day problems over a cup of tea. A problem shared is a problem halved. Make that call and speak to someone that does understand farming.”
Edward Buckland, the Chairman of the Cornwall committee of theRoyal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, and himself a land agent who has helped many farmers said: “The time for burying your head in the sand is over. Some farms are facing disaster, yet I can assure anyone worried about their future that help is there. Please be brave and ask for help now.”
Farmers and smallholders who have a problem or anyone who can foresee a potential problem are urged to contact the farming help helpline, who will pass their details onto the required support charity. Farming help can be contacted every day between 7am to 11pm on 03000 111 999, Farm Cornwall on 01736 367589. If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health, call the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 24/7 NHS mental health response line on 0800 038 5300.