Adam Henson reports on the support network which offers help to struggling farmers

PUBLISHED: 12:39 23 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:16 28 February 2013

Adam Henson reports on the support network which offers help to struggling farmers

Adam Henson reports on the support network which offers help to struggling farmers

Adam Henson reports on the support network which offers help to struggling farmers

Every day millions of us fill our supermarket trollies with fresh food, visit bakeries, delis and greengrocers or simply drop in to the corner shop for a pint of milk. As consumers our lives have been made incredibly easy over recent years.


But how many people give a second thought to the farmers and producers whove provided the food and drink we take for granted? Farming is on the crest of a wave and the future for British agriculture looks good but were a big community and within it, some people are bound to struggle at times.


Accidents, serious illness, stress, animal disease and the worst of the weather can all blight an otherwise idyllic life in the countryside. Just as the shopping experience has changed over the years, so has life on the land. Big estates run by extended families and employing dozens of workers are a thing of the past.


Today the workforce has shrunk and even the weekly outing to the local livestock market is dying out. It can be a lonely way of earning a living so its reassuring to know that help is at hand. Every year the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) offers assistance to more than 2,000 people with advice, care and help with the bills.


Last summer I was at the Royal Bath and West Show to help the Institution launch its Just Ask campaign to promote a new freephone number.


Something as simple as knowing a telephone call isnt going to cost a small fortune can make all the difference to someone in a lonely farmhouse facing a pile of final reminders.


More recently RABI has been making the news when the Prince of Wales Countryside Fund and the Duke of Westminster each donated 150,000 to farming charities helping those struggling after the floods of 2012.


Another recipient was the Farm Crisis Network (FCN). It runs volunteer groups across Britain and came about in 1995 as a direct response to the high number of farm workers taking their own lives.


Anyone working in the industry at the time will remember how shocking the suicide figures were. Then theres the Addington Fund which was set up as the churches response to the devastating Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001. It offers emergency grants in times of hardship and provides accommodation for farming families who have to leave the industry and lose their home as a result.


Of course some people genuinely believe that theres no such thing as a poor farmer and will argue their point passionately. For my part, Im just thankful that there are dedicated individuals working for charities and organisations who are there to listen and help in times of need.

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