Zanna Dennis on the importance of support.
The parting words Its good to know youre not on your own, were said by two farmers as they went their separate ways.
Although the sale was long over, with buyers and sellers dispersed, the two had lingered to catch up and find out how each other really were.
But is that not half the battle to know you are not facing the challenges of the industry alone?
Working in a livestock market, alongside my role as development officer for the Livestock Auctioneers Association, I see the benefits of the live ring beyond the point of sale.
Many farmers will tell you that the visit to the livestock market will often be the only time in the week when they meet with others.
Making new friends, catching up with old, enjoying a mart cafe dinner and keeping a close eye on the trade.
A good laugh and friendly banter over a market gate can be good medicine however, many of our markets also offer a range of professional services and are uniquely positioned to support farmers with their mental health and well-being.
The support is crucial, as the industry has some of the worst mental health statistics which are result from working long hours, being isolated and under circumstances beyond their control.
Growing up I would hear the ringing of my dads phone, knowing that as an auctioneer, many of his conversations with customers would go beyond business.
He would offer a vital listening ear in challenging times, but that is the privilege and responsibility we have as auctioneers working in the heart of our rural communities.
Our markets are supported by numerous agricultural charities such as, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Farming Community Network, alongside Agricultural Chaplains, who are on-site weekly to provide professional advice and support.
Many are volunteers, who give their time to our farming communities. As Meg Elliot, of Bagshaws, explained recently, during a time of need it is crucial to speak out and access help and support.
Over the past decade we have seen the development of Health Hubs in livestock markets, as featured in the recent BBC Countryfile at Bakewell Auction Mart.
Renowned for taking their livestock to the vets long before they would take themselves to the doctors, health hubs in livestock markets have provided farmers with frontline care delivered by medical professionals in an accessible setting.
It would be no exaggeration to say that such services have saved lives, with early signs of serious illnesses spotted and referred for treatment that would have gone unnoticed.
If anyone should be in doubt of the importance of the additional benefits of the live auction ring, recent reports, such as More than a Mart by the Princes Countryside Fund, have highlighted the vital role livestock markets play as a social hub in their local community.
This is a message that we should continue to shout about, especially in such challenging times.
And finally, to the large-scale retailers who are proud to support British farmers, I invite you to come and buy in our livestock markets and support the places that provide a competitive and transparent marketplace for farmers to sell their livestock and also a place that offers critical services to support farmers health and wellbeing.
Now that would truly be backing British farming!
Zanna Dennis is the developement officer of the Livestock Auctioneers Association.
Call 07930 115 838 or email [email protected]