29 February 2000
One in 10 tenants on anti-depressants
ONE in 10 tenant farmers requires anti-depressant drugs to get them through the day, a new survey by the National Farmers Union reveals.
The NFU hopes the research will highlight the human effect of the crisis in agriculture and spur the government into providing assistance.
The report Tenant Farmers – The Facts uncovers other bleak findings in this particularly vulnerable sector, whose members have neither a house nor land as an asset.
A quarter of tenant farmers blame marital problems on the crisis; 70% of tenant farmers are kept awake at night worrying about their situation; 60% fear they will lose everything.
In 1998, the last recorded year, 71 farmers and farm workers committed suicide.
NFU president Ben Gill said: “This report gives a stark warning to government that time is rapidly running out for assistance.
“The fact that one in 10 of those in our report have been prescribed drugs is particularly worrying when you consider that last year there was more than one farming suicide a week.”
The report also reveals that more than half those surveyed are in danger of not keeping up with rent payments and 60% have been forced to lay off staff.
More than a quarter cited problems with banks refusing to increase borrowing facilities and local authorities or landlords turning down diversification plans.
The NFU calls for short-term aid in the form of agrimoney compensation, action to reduce the strength of Sterling, help with BSE costs, and a long-term strategy for tenant farming.
Around 23,000 tenants – approximately 18% of full-time farmers – rent land and farm buildings on 5.5 million acres of UK land.
The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers latest survey showed a dramatic growth in letting land in 1999.
The survey showed a net gain to the sector of 61,000 acres, more than the previous two years levels combined.
The NFU report drew on the stories of more than 1000 of its registered tenant members.
- Tearful Lib-Dem tells of farm suicides, FWi, 16 December, 1999
- Slump drives farmer to suicide, FWi, 25 November, 1999
- Bottling up stress lifts suicide rates, FWi, 01 October, 1999
- One farmer a week commits suicide, FWi, 13 september, 1999