West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Donnelly backs calls for integrated approach to support farmers well being

Published: 27 March, 2019

Mid Tyrone Sinn Féin Councillor, Sean Donnelly has said that farmers are under immense pressure and this is the responsibility of everyone, including government departments and wider society.

Cllr Donnelly who is a member of the Fermanagh-Omagh Council Agriculture Committee was speaking after attending the 'Resilient Farmers Conference' organised by Rural Support, Embrace FARM and the Farm Safety Foundation and which focused on farmers health and wellbeing.

"As a hill farmer I understand the challenges faced by farmers. Long hours, hazardous conditions, fluctuating prices and farming can be a very solitary, lonely activity with associated mental health problems. As one contributor said at the meeting, we are 'prisoners of hope'.

"This is compounded by a very uncertain future with the Brexit chaos and the removal of the ANC/LFA support from this year.

"We heard from medical professionals who highlighted concerns about farmer's health, poor diet and unwillingness to seek medical help or advice. I was startled to learn that one farmer per week in the north and Britain takes their own life.

"Sadly, farmers who are mentally unfit are less likely to develop and grow their farm business and are more likely to make bad decisions such as taking risks that can be life changing or worse. The reverberations for them and their families can be devastating.

"It was clear from the discussion that a more integrated approach is needed which draws from the fields of psychology, social support, government, community, medical and business to help farmers cope in these ever changing times.

"I commend the organisers for taking this very important and timely initiative and as a member of the Fermanagh-Omagh Council Agriculture Committee I intend to discuss the issues raised at our next meeting and explore how we as local government can play our part in developing an integrated approach to help safeguard farmer's well-being".

Pic 1: Cllr Sean Donnelly signs the farmers health and well being pledge at the Resilient Farmers Conference in Greenmount College. Pic 2: Representatives of Sinn Féin (l-r) Declan Mc Aleer MLA, Cllr Sean Donnelly and Bronwyn Mc Gahan with Jude Mc Cann of Rural Support at the Resilient Farmers Conference in Greenmount College.