A FARMER on Clee Hill is appealing for people working in agriculture to seek help if they have mental health problems.

Richard Huffer, who is a farmer and member of Shropshire Council for Clee, says that farming is one of the most vulnerable professions for suicide.

Data from the Office of National Statistics show that male agricultural workers have a suicide rate second only to low-skilled labourers.

More than 60 farming men take their own lives every year.

“To learn that agriculture has one of the highest suicide rates in England will come as no surprise for anyone in the farming community,” said Richard Huffer.

“We have all lost friends and colleagues in shocking circumstances.

“Farming is a tough job. Many farmers work in isolation. They are under huge pressures, especially the smaller farmers in places like south Shropshire.

“It gets harder and harder to make ends meet. Fluctuating milk and livestock prices, delayed single farm payments, testing for TB and problems like avian flu all put farmers under considerable stress.

“People would be shocked if they knew how many farmers are on anti-depressant medication and in need of help. Farmers don’t talk about depression much. They are too busy working 24/7 and trying to keep afloat. They too often ignore their own health needs.

“There is help available. I urge farmers to seek advice from their GPs or a helpline before things get bad.”

In the five years 2011-2016, 325 men and 14 women aged 20 to 64 and employed in skilled agricultural and related trades committed suicide.

Farmers needing advice or someone to talk to about their problems can contact the Farmers Support Network on 03000 111 999.