Farming talk: Time to show appreciation to local farming community

As we enter the month of September, poet John Keats wrote in the early 1800s "seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness". The drought of the last few weeks has brought autumn colours into the Shropshire countryside, leaves are altering, blackberries are ripening quickly, and the grain harvest has been gathered in sooner than usual.

Christine Downes, member of Shropshire RABI committee
Christine Downes, member of Shropshire RABI committee

Many churches are giving thanks for food grown on our land.

It is important to show our appreciation to our local farming community at this time of sharing. If your church would like to support Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) as part of harvest celebrations please contact regional manager Kate Jones on 01743 892892 or 07876 492839 or email

RABI was established in 1860, founded on the belief that every member of the farming community matters and should never face difficulties alone. The charity continues to develop its services to address the unexpected challenges that farmers face, either when working or no longer active in the sector. Whatever the issue, RABI offers practical effective help, it provides confidential advice, training and financial assistance, including one-off and regular grants.

After The Big Farming Survey was completed with 15,000 replies, RABI is now providing a 24/7 freephone helpline on 0800 188 4444.

The uptake for this service, with confidential, accredited counsellors who have an interest and knowledge of the farming community, has been high.

They know the financial pressures, environmental factors, political uncertainty and issues such as succession are far more complicated in farming than many other sectors.

Farmers and their families should not be afraid of counselling, but instead view it as another tool available to them, part of keeping the farm enterprise going. If you can access support early, it can help to get a fresh perspective.

One person said: “I feel like a different person, I do not feel as negative and feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have realised that life is worth living. I have been brought back from the edge. The first step is so wobbly but if you can just take that first, difficult wobbly step well…amazing.”

The Shropshire RABI committee is grateful to the ongoing financial support from friends, businesses, YFC clubs and private donations. In the last seven months expenditure of over £55,000 has been spent in the county. At Minsterley Show, we received £170 from Stapeley Vets, Rea Valley Tractors donated their trade stand winnings, and £110 was donated on the stand. Thank you to those who enjoyed afternoon teas at Wallflowers, we were delighted to receive £450.

We will be selling RABI Christmas cards in St Mary’s from October 21.

Christine Downes is a member of Shropshire RABI committee

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