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Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has urged Northern Ireland's farmers and farm families to look after their physical health and mental wellbeing at the launch of a new campaign aimed at protecting the most valuable asset of the agricultural industry – its people.

The Minister spoke as he launched the ’Protecting the Asset that is You’ campaign. The Minister said: "Given the challenging environment created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever to look after ourselves both physically and mentally. This programme, 'Protecting the Asset that is You' will deliver up-to-date health messages to farmers and their families and support people to look after themselves."

The campaign is funded via DAERA's Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) fund and delivered through Rural Support and the Farm Family Health Check Programme (FFHCP) - designed to help those in the farming industry look after themselves and their families.

The Minister continued: "The overall aim of the 'Protecting the Asset that is You' campaign is to continue to improve the health and wellbeing not just of farmers and farming families but also rural communities through crucial health messages and signposting the pathways to appropriate services when and where they are needed.

"This partnership between Rural Support and the FFHCP will enable us to make more people aware of various health conditions that the farming community can be more vulnerable to than other communities and therefore need to be a lot more mindful of. These include conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular health and skin cancer. These conditions are preventable and we as farmers can help ourselves greatly with the support of health care teams."

Throughout 2020-2021, Rural Support will receive £150,000 from the TRPSI fund to provide farmers and rural dwellers with a listening ear and support service. DAERA also provide over £150k p.a. to support the Farm Family Health Checks project..

The Minister concluded: “We must be very mindful not to let the physical and psychological pressures involved in running a farm become harmful to the wellbeing of farmers or their families. That is why the ‘Protecting the Asset that is You’ campaign is so important. I am asking our farmers to remember that they and their families are the greatest asset on our farms. Without them, the farm will not work effectively. I urge you all, to please look after yourselves, be aware of potential health issues and seek the appropriate help."