LIVESTOCK auctioneers have been hitting the phones as part of a national campaign to tackle loneliness and mental ill-health among farmers during lockdown.

With the stress of lambing and calving over, but no auction marts, agricultural shows, or normal summer events to reconnect with people at and let off steam, farming organisations are concerned many farmers will be struggling.

To tackle this, a #KeepTalking campaign has been launched by The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) with support from the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) and other farming organisations.

Auctioneers, who are key figures in farming communities and known for their ability to talk, have been recruited from around Scotland as ambassadors for the campaign.

Scott Donaldson, joint managing director at Harrison & Hetherington, based in Carlisle, in his role as president of IAAS, said “We spend a lot of time talking to farmers and often act as a confidant, sound board, business eye and friend. It’s something we take extremely seriously because know that for farmers that chat in the yard or kitchen could be the only one they have that day, week, or even month. Marts themselves also play a critical role in enabling farmers to connect, share successes and disasters, or simply unwind with a bacon butty and chat about the rugby. Right now, however, the pandemic has halted those face-to-face interactions, so we encourage everyone to pick up the phone to a neighbour, friend, or acquaintance, for your own health and their’s too."

The campaign runs until June 21, the final day of what would have been the Royal Highland Show.