The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) is shifting its focus to the mental health impacts of bovine tuberculosis (TB) following a spike in the numbers of farmers reaching out to charity.
By Elizabeth Peni Brooks
Its seminar, ‘What impacts do TB breakdowns have on mental health’, will be hosted at the Royal Welsh Show next week to tackle the emotional and financial knock-on effects of the disease.
FUW senior policy officer Dr Hazel Wright said panellists would discuss the implications following a TB outbreak to ensure that farmers were receiving enough support.
Chief executive of the Farming Community Network (FCN) Charles Smith said about one-third of the charity’s cases were related to the disease.
He said: “Our volunteers regularly encounter farming families experiencing immense financial hardship due to no longer being able to sell the livestock they tend to.
“Some have been forced to drastically alter their businesses as a result.
“Many farmers also suffer with both their mental and physical health. They could be anxious about a forthcoming inspection, stressed about the increased workload that comes with testing or depressed about seeing their livestock put down.”
Mr Smith said his volunteers could work with farmers to reduce the impact of TB and help with cash flow issues, as well as providing emotional, farming and practical business support.
He added: “We are completely non-judgemental in our work and all cases are treated with complete confidentiality.”
Other speakers on the panel include Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, as well as representatives from West Wales charity Tir Dewi, the DPJ Foundation and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute (RABI).
Mr Lake said decisive action was needed to bring the disease under control and that greater consideration should be given as to how policy could be more empathetic towards farmers following a TB outbreak, as well as during the testing regime.
According to Defra’s latest statistics in the 12 months up to the end of March 2019, there were 11,662 animals slaughtered, 1,002 herds under movement restrictions and more than 2.1 million cattle tests carried out.
The seminar is at 11am on Monday July 22.