ROBIN Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member and his Party’s Westminster candidate for the area, has said the new House of Commons Agriculture Minister must ensure increased funding is made available to help farming families cope with the severe stresses and strains of working in the agricultural sector.
Assemblyman Swann, a Past President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, added: “In this respect, I highly commend the work being done by the Rural Support helpline charity, which has already provided considerable advice to many farming families who are under pressure.
“While I welcome the existing funding for Rural Support from the past Stormont departments of agriculture and health, if elected, I will also campaign to ensure that the next Westminster Government, and especially the next Farming Minister, allocates specific funding to continue this valuable service.
“Our farming community, particularly in North Antrim, has faced a vast mountain of challenges in past decades, including the European beef ban, the threats from BSE and Foot and Mouth, as well as the lignite mining danger, and a potential bird flu pandemic.
“All of these stressful situations have naturally placed at times a terrible strain on our farming families. So often, we have read general reports about young people taking their own lives as a result of various circumstances throughout the Province.
“In the constant battle to preserve the emotional well-being of our agricultural workers, the role of Rural Network is in the frontline. It is, therefore, essential this charity receives as much help as possible.
“I do not want to see a nightmare scenario develop where because of the pressures of trying to make ends meet in modern agriculture, that farmers feel suicide is the only solution.
“I would, therefore, appeal directly to anyone in our farming community who is facing emotional or stress problems to get in touch with Rural Network as soon as possible. I would also highly commend the helpline volunteers who carry out a very worthwhile task,” said Assemblyman Swann.
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