Farmers are being driven to suicide by the slump in commodity prices, MPs have been told.
The stark warning is contained among dozens of pages of written evidence submitted by growers and livestock producers to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee.
The committee has published the evidence ahead of its first hearing into the agricultural downturn, which is due to be held on Wednesday (28 October).
“For many farmers, falling prices paid for their products, including wheat, lamb, beef and pigmeat, are leading to an uncertain future,” it warned.
It added: “The committee wishes to inquire into the impact of these and other factors on farmgate prices, and measures that could be taken to improve prospects for the agriculture industry.”
Wheat producer Susan Atkinson said the slump was contributing to suicide, stress-related illness, mental illness, marital and relationship breakdowns.
Sources of support
- Samaritans 116 123
- Farming Community Network 0845 367 9990
- Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution 0300 303 7373
“It is said that every farmer knows of at least one farming suicide and the two youngest I know of were both 19 years old,” she said in written evidence to MPs.
Ms Atkinson added: “The real costs of low farmgate prices in so many areas needs thoroughly investigating and reported on.”
Dairy producer Paul Tompkins, of South Acre Farm, near York, told the committee in his evidence that action should be taken to help increase milk prices.
“My business is currently suffering significantly for reasons beyond my control,” he said.
The hearing will see MPs quiz NFU head of food and farming Phil Bicknell about the impact low farmgate prices are having on the farming industry.
National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker and National Pig Association policy services officer Lizzie Wilson will also give evidence.