Defra funds £150,000 to boost northern farmers' wellbeing

The six-figure sum, awarded by Defra, is being shared between numerous groups based in the north of England
The six-figure sum, awarded by Defra, is being shared between numerous groups based in the north of England

Farmers will benefit from health and wellbeing support over the next two years following a successful £150,000 funding bid by a consortium of agricultural organisations.

The six-figure sum, awarded by Defra, is being shared between numerous groups based in the north of England, including for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and Farmer Network, among others.

The funding comes at a time when farmers are working to meet the challenges of adapting to major changes to government farm payments.

Meanwhile, recent months of wet weather has damaged crops and resulted in high losses over lambing.

Using the funds, the bid partners seek to enhance their collective mission to build connected and resilient farming communities, and “keep farming stronger for longer”.

To do so, they will deliver 14 farming focused first aid training courses and 10 mental health awareness courses for farmers and those working with farmers.

They will also undertake activities to reduce isolation in rural communities such as social events, lunch clubs, farm visits and other trips.

There will be support for groups, such as women in farming, the over 50s and younger farmers over the age of 28 who are too old to attend Young Farmer Club events.

Some 38 events will be organised by Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS), the Farmer Network and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Regular outreach clinics will be set up at seven auction marts across Cumbria, Yorkshire and Durham before the end of 2024.

These aim to provide useful information about farm support schemes, to help farmers access their Rural Payments Agency account and to signpost to other support.

One-to-one advice will be provided to 22 farm businesses, and four workshops will help farming communities become more resilient by focusing on topics such as succession planning and health and safety on farms.

And Field Nurse, a small charity established in 2016, will be recruiting two more Field Nurses and an extra trailer to extend its service into two new auction marts in Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Adam Day, managing director of the Farmer Network said: “We very much welcome this funding from Defra which will enable us to deliver a range of activities to support farmer health and welfare.

"This will include outreach clinics at auction marts, events to reduce isolation, one to one advice and workshops to help the farming community become more resilient.

“We also very much welcome the opportunity to work with our partner organisations - UTASS, Field Nurse and the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. Together we aim to provide support to farmers across the North of England.”

The sum is being shared between the Farmer Network in Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Yorkshire Rural Support Network, UTASS based in the Durham Dales and Field Nurse, which operates across Lancashire and North Yorkshire.