DAIRY cooperative Arla is joining forces with Asda to pledge practical, financial and emotional support to British farmers with a new charity partnership.

With increasing pressures on farmers from the pandemic, the isolation of often working alone and future uncertainty all contributing to mental health issues, the two organisations are linking up with The Farming Community Network to give support back to farmers during challenging times, helping them to plan ahead and manage stress.

FCN’s Time to Plan initiative is focused on topical themes such as the new post-Brexit regime, succession and retirement, wellbeing and safety. With mental health and wellbeing becoming an increasing concern across Britain this year, FCN has revealed that concerns around mental health and wellbeing are now the leading reason for calls to its support line.

In June, FCN ran an online survey of 160 farmers, agricultural businesses and members of the public across the UK, which found that 90 per cent believe the need for farming support organisations and charity services will increase over the next five years.

Concerned by these findings, Arla Farmers Milk and Asda want to ensure farmers have access to the right support by giving a financial donation which will provide practical and emotional support from FCN. As the events of 2020 have impacted on the farming community, the financial support is made possible by the number of customers choosing to support farmers by buying Arla Farmers Milk in Asda stores.

Arla farmer John Hutchinson said: “The Farming Community Network is a vital resource to farmers nationwide and while Arla Farmers remain committed to delivering excellence in our industry and as part of this, we want to keep fridges stocked across the UK.

"The reality is, however, that this year has presented farmers with a lot of challenges, some of which have only been made more difficult over the last few months. So many farmers rely on the support of organisations like FCN to help navigate the challenges we face.

"The support of the nation who choose products like Arla Farmers Milk to help provide these services really makes a difference to the farmers who work so hard to produce the milk.”

Ensuring the nation is fed, Arla farmers this year alone have delivered more than 2.5m litres of milk from farms to our fridges. That’s enough for more than 240m cups of tea, 6.1m slices of buttery toast or 1.6m cheese sandwiches to help people through the challenges of the year so far.

But the events of 2020 have taken their toll on farmers too, and Arla Farmers Milk and Asda will extend their support by backing the Farming Community Network’s new Time to Plan initiative.

This product found only in Asda stores is made in Leeds. Every time an Asda shopper chooses to buy Arla Farmers Milk, an extra 25p goes back to the farmers, on top of the usual milk price. In 2020, this has already meant Asda shoppers giving an extra £1m directly back Arla’s farmers.

Lauren Smith, spokesperson for Arla Farmers Milk, said: “The Farming Community Network’s survey shows how concerned farmers for both their own wellbeing, and also those around them. The extra support of Asda, and its shoppers who chose to buy the Arla Farmers Milk has enabled this extra donation to be made, and it’s something we know will be put to good use by the charity. We are committed to supporting farmers across the nation and look forward to continuing this partnership.”

The FCN has a network of more than 400 volunteers across England and Wales, many of whom are involved in farming, or have close links with agriculture, and therefore have a great understanding of the issues that farmers, farm workers and farming families regularly face. Volunteers provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help, regardless of whether the issue is personal or business-related.

For more information, visit www.fcn.org.uk.