The hidden hardship behind the rural idyll

Farming | Published:

What a difference a year makes.

Christine Downes, committee member of Shropshire RABI

Farming is so dependent on the weather, with 2018 bringing ‘The Beast from the East’ and a long dry summer with drought conditions.

The climate has an enormous effect on growing crops and livestock throughout the world. Water and sunshine in the right quantities at the right time help farming to produce food for us all.

This year it is good to see the excellent crops of forage filling barns for the winter, flowering potatoes soon to be harvested, luscious strawberry crops, grain crops glistening in the sunshine and livestock looking content. All appears to be well.

However there is another story. The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution has nationally received 437 new inquiries for help from January to May, and 67 per cent came from people actively involved in farming.

The head of welfare Trish Pickford said: “Self- employment and the nature of farming in particular means that when ill-health or accident strikes it is often very difficult to cope, both practically and financially.”

The trained confidential welfare team who take your call on 0808 281 9490 will listen and make a plan suitable for the caller’s problems.

As farming alters there are wider and more complex issues affecting people’s lives. RABI is there to support now and in the future. There are many grateful thanks from beneficaries who have taken the step to contact, such as Frank’s moving story at the recent national AGM.

The Shropshire committee organises functions to raise awareness and funds for the 159-year-old charity. Every pound raised in the county is spent here. In 2019 so far £24,000 has been spent, £6,000 on working farming families.


Farming is a special way of life where we care for each other, and increasingly we realise mental health, our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, are most important. It’s okay to talk, and ask how life is going. Be honest, as there is help available. Mental health is treatable and prevention is key.

We are grateful to all the people who support RABI, from businesses, church services, Young Farmers Clubs and many individuals.The recent NFU chairman’s lunch made a magnificient £7,549, and thanks to all those who collected tokens for Shropshire Star “Cash for the Community” to enable RABI to receive £553.82

If you would like to know more and help support us please contact regional manager Kate Jones on 07876 492839 or email

As the show season is in full swing, we look forward to meeting people at Minsterley Show on August 17.

Christine Downes, committee member of Shropshire RABI


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