Calls for more emphasis on mental health impact of bovine TB

Posted on 13 Jun 2019
Calls for more emphasis on mental health impact of bovine TB

The Farming Union of Wales (FUW) says that the economic issues surrounding bovine TB and the mental health impact this causes farmers should be looked into.

The call from the union follows an announcement by Lesley Griffiths, Minister of Rural Affairs, stating that there would soon be a review of the compensation regime in Wales.

As of today, any efforts on controlling the spread of bovine TB in Wales have centred around animal health issues. However, the FUW feel it is time that greater attention was given to the economic impact bovine TB can cause for farmers and the negative effect this can have on mental health.

The FUW has written to the Welsh government in regard to establishing a Wales Bovine TB Economics Task and Finish Group. This group would provide information on the economic impacts of bovine TB for farmers and subsequent mental health issues.

81% of farmers under 40 name mental health as biggest hidden problem in the industry

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW senior policy officer, said: “Under the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the Welsh government is obligated to take account of the long-term impact of their decision making.

“Our very real concern is that future compensation policies, which provide for poorer compensation, will undoubtedly increase mental health issues and poverty amongst the farming community in Wales, and this is in direct opposition to the obligations and aims of the Act.”

“We know that issues including loss of stock, problems with cash flow, costs of housing and feeding additional stock, loss of business control and uncertainty over the future, inevitably impact on the emotional well-being of farming families. However, the true impact is likely to have been underestimated.”

She went on to say that it was ‘imperative’ that the economic and mental health impacts of bovine TB are carefully considered by the government before any budgetary changes are made, so that farmers dealing with an outbreak of bovine TB are no longer operating at ‘breaking point’.

Mental health continues to be a current and relevant talking point within the UK farming community. The Farm Safety Fundaction’s ‘Mind Your Head’ Campaign was launched in February in order to raise awareness, and a survey revealed that 81% of farmers under 40 believed mental health to be the biggest hidden problem facing the industry today.

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