R.A.B.I regional manager Georgina Lamb was part of a select panel that fielded questions from around 100 Cumbrian dairy and livestock farmers at a high-profile farmers’ meeting at Rheged in Penrith on 18 August.
Georgina shared the stage with auctioneer Adam Day, the Rev Chris Blackshaw, who heads the new Cumbria Agricultural Chaplaincy and Penrith & Border MP Rory Stewart. Chairing the meeting was Lord Inglewood.
Georgina said: “There are a lot of positives to take from the night. Though there is frustration amongst dairy farmers, I am also seeing a great deal of passion in the industry too – from people who believe in their products and know how good they are.”
Georgina, who also took part in a Radio Sheffield debate to discuss falling milk prices, added: “Sheffield is an urban area but the number of calls they received for the radio debate shows it is not just in rural areas where people have strong opinions and care about what is happening to our farmers.”
Last year, R.A.B.I gave out £2m in grants nationally. To date, more than £970k has been given out in grants, with financial support given to 84 working farmers. In Cumbria, R.A.B.I has given out grants of £24,920.58 during 2015 (up to August 18). The nature of support has been varied, including the following:
- £4,860 in quarterly grants to regular beneficiaries
- £855 towards telephone rental expenses
- £2,170 towards TV licences
- £2,497 towards training which enables established farmers to help develop other skills and earn additional money, to stay in the farming industry, rather than leave it
- £2,795 in winter bonuses
- £9,092 towards such things as travel costs to hospital, domestic bills / expenses and food vouchers
R.A.B.I chief executive Paul Burrows said: “We would not be surprised to see an increase in the numbers of dairy farmers turning to us for help this autumn. Experience shows that people do not always seek assistance straight away. We are particularly concerned about the impact falling dairy prices will have on tenant farmers, who have nothing else to fall back on and might be exposed. At the other end of the spectrum, we are also concerned about the larger dairy farms, who have borrowed funds in order to expand their businesses.
“We are supportive of recent NFU action and initiatives and welcome the fact that industry leaders and ministers are now talking face to face to find solutions to problems relating to milk production. We also support recent initiatives of the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
“It is important to stress that we are here to support all farmers at times of financial need, urging those in difficulty to contact us via our helpline on 0808 2819490.
“We see the human fallout – but we help struggling families, not struggling businesses.”
Pictured: R.A.B.I regional manager for the North West, Georgina Lamb