More farmers are looking for psychological & financial help
We visited Moerkerke, near Damme, on the farm of Els and Stefaan.
Before they built this new dairy barn, Els and her husband Stefaan asked ‘Farmers at a Crossroads’ for advice in 2019. An expensive investment and a difficult decision.
“Numbers are looked at a lot. It is also important that you include yourself as a person in those decisions. Will I be able to handle that. Is that okay if we do it with two. The human and the farmer as a person. And that it is possible via ‘Farmers at a Crossroad'”, says Els Vanneste.
Last year, some ninety West Flemish farmers knocked on the door of ‘Farmers at a Crossroads’. This year there are already 60. More than 90 West Flemish farmers received psychological support this year.
Els Verté of ‘Farmers at a Crossroads’: “If the advisors notice during the counseling that psycho-social assistance is needed, we send our freelance psychologists on the road. If the farmer and the farmer’s wife agree. That can be for depression , addictions, relationship problems, communication problems or dealing with all the problems they have in the context of that legal uncertainty.”
Farmers don’t have it easy and climate warming and the ongoing drought are added to that.
Farmer Stefaan Cocquyt : “You are concerned that you have to have enough food for your animals. Grass growth has almost completely stopped. We do grazing. But we have to give a lot to the cows. The winter stock is already being used.”
(read more below the photo)
Action with farmer’s handkerchief
With a symbolic farmers’ handkerchief campaign, farmers demand more respect from the government and consumers. They ask you to hang it on your car or your letterbox as a sign of support.
“The negative reporting that is often done and that we are supposedly polluters, that touches our hearts and that takes away a lot of energy for us.”