Charity distributes £1.87m to hard-pressed farmers

A leading agricultural charity has distributed almost £1.9m to cash-strapped growers and livestock producers as farm incomes continue to plummet.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) said it gave out grants of about £1.87m to farming people in financial hardship during 2015.

RABI said a total of 1,340 individuals and families received financial support, with the charity helping farming people to claim more than £390,000 in state benefits and tax credits.

See also: Dramatic fall forecast for farm incomes

The charity released the figures less than a fortnight after Defra forecast a significant fall in farm incomes during the year to February 2016.

Almost all farming sectors have seen incomes drop over the past 12 months.

Dairy and pig farm incomes are expected to fall by almost half, with cereal growers set to see a 24% slump, due to lower prices driven by the strong pound and supply outstripping demand.

RABI helps farmers, farmworkers and their families who rely on agriculture for their main source of income – but it also gives grants to retired farmers, farmworkers and their dependants.

RABI chief executive Paul Burrows said: “For working farmers suffering financial hardship due to an unforeseen crisis, we can provide grants towards relief staff.

RABI helpline

“Our message is simple: if you or someone you know works or has worked in farming and is in need of help, call our Freephone helpline on 0808 281 9490.

“Your call will be handled with discretion. Just ask – we do much more than you think.”

During 2015, the charity paid out £156,000 to working farmers, to help them cope with issues including illness, flooding and animal disease.

It also paid out £221,885 towards clearing domestic bills, £122,039 for disability equipment and adaptations and £48,366 for home repairs and improvements.

Mr Burrows said: “For retired or disabled people we provide regular and one-off grants for living costs. We can help with home-help costs and provide specialist equipment and white goods.”

Grants totalling £263,204 were given to 200 individuals and families in Wales.

Since December 2015, RABI has given out emergency grants of £58,000 to flood victims in Cumbria, Lancashire and Durham.

RABI’s work is funded by donations, investments and legacies.

“We receive tremendous support from the farming community and fundraising events are held throughout England and Wales by our county committees of volunteers,” said Mr Burrows.

“Our message is simple: if you or someone you know works or has worked in farming and is in need of help, call our Freephone helpline on 0808 281 9490.

“Your call will be handled with discretion. Just ask – we do much more than you think.”