The start of the year can be a difficult time, with the Christmas festivities behind us and spring still feeling a long way off, writes Abi Reader, NFU Cymru Deputy President.

Combine this with labour pressures, AI, supply chain problems and soaring energy bills and we have a storm that can make those caught up in it feel powerless.

One in four people will suffer a mental health issue in their lifetime with agriculture carrying one of the highest rates of suicide.

These are extraordinary times. As farmers we are used to coping with uncertainty, it’s part of the job.


In these times it’s so important to recognise the pressure we are all under. Even if people appear to be ok, I can assure you that many are not. So, give yourself a break and don’t think it’s only you. Then take another step and talk to someone.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your partner or a qualified counsellor. Somebody, anybody, will do. We are all proud but don’t let that get in the way. The hardest step is the first one and from there it’s amazing what support and understanding is out there.

Within Wales, there are a number of organisations which offer support and advice specific to farmers, providing a confidential service for information across financial concerns, business management support, succession planning and offering support for good mental health and wellbeing.

Among those on hand is RABI. The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution is an award-winning national charity providing local support to the farming community across England and Wales.

RABI have recently introduced additional support services following the findings of its Big Farming Survey. Supported by the NFU, the survey showed poor mental wellbeing is a fundamental issue among farmers in England and Wales, with more than a third of people within farming ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ depressed. To contact RABI call 0800 1884444.

The DPJ Foundation is another Welsh mental health charity which supports those in agriculture and rural communities with mental health problems.

The Foundation was set up in Pembrokeshire in July 2016 following the death of Daniel Picton-Jones. Daniel’s suicide rocked the community, his widow Emma realised very quickly the lack of support that was available for those suffering with poor mental health in rural communities. Contact The DPJ Foundation by calling 0800 587 4262 or text 07860 048799.

Tir Dewi can also help. Its founders, The Venerable Eileen Davies, Archdeacon of Cardigan and Bishop Wyn (now retired), established the charity in 2015. They recognised the growing and serious need to help farmers who were experiencing difficult times. You can get in touch with Tir Dewi by calling 0800 121 47 22.

Finally, the Farming Community Network (FCN) is a voluntary organisation and charity that also supports farmers and families within the farming community through difficult times. They have a network of over 400 volunteers across England and Wales, many of whom are involved in farming.

They provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help. You can contact them by calling 03000 111 999.

Farming is one big community – we must all take responsibility in looking out for those in need. Check in on your loved ones, friends and neighbours and strike up that conversation if you think someone is struggling.

The most important message is don’t be afraid and don’t shy away from discussing mental health. Be open and have the conversation about it.

If you would like any help with bereavement, loss or mental wellbeing, here are some helpline numbers 

You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 

Papyrus Hopeline on 0800 068 4141 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58 

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) 0300 111 5065