The girls from the Becca and Lizzie duo have recently interviewed The Minister of Farming, Food and Fisheries, Mark Spencer for their podcast.
Mark Spencer has publicly shown his support for mental health in agriculture by getting involved in Len’s Light Relay, an initiative set up by parents of Len Eadon, a young farmer who sadly took his own life. In setting up the epic tractor journey, Andy and Lynda aim not only to keep Len’s memory shining but also start conversations to help people reflect on things that they may be concerned about.
Mr Spencer participated in the London leg of the tractor journey. He said that “we need to do better as a society, as an industry, but also government has its role to play in supporting people but also making sure we’re having the right conversations with people and we stick together as a sector and support each other. You know, as the Minister, I take it as my job to make sure government understands that.”
The podcast highlights mental health in agricultural and rural communities as an underlying theme in many of the conversations had on the series, on social media and at in-person events. Describing the current situation around mental health as a crisis is not an underestimation believe the girls – Becca said that “the pressures facing farmers at the moment seem to be worse than ever. We’re up against supply chain unfairness, weather, political uncertainty, loss of BPS. Put simply, the financial pressure is enough to worry anyone and that’s before we consider any of the other unique challenges such as isolation and loneliness.”
The pair called upon well-known farming faces to pose questions to the Minister with the likes of farming YouTuber Olly Harrison (100k subscribers) who wanted to ask about DEFRA’s plans for future mental health provision: “…with the NFU, we were doing some mental health workshops, training people to spot the signs of depression, just like they do in New Zealand. They train milk tanker drivers to spot the signs of depression in farmers. Is that something you think DEFRA and the RPA should roll out for staff they have calling on farms?”
Mental health ambassador and first- generation farmer, Matt Styles, questioned the Minister in the episode on the stability of the future of farming, the Minister answered “it cannot be fair that the farmers take all the risk and the processors and the retailers take all of the profit.”
Becca and Lizzie have been hosting their podcast for two years, bringing together Becca’s perspective as a fifth-generation farmer and Lizzie’s upbringing in Middlesborough to ask questions about food, farming and the countryside and bridge the gap with the public. Episodes are released weekly and are made possible with the support of A Plan Rural Insurance.
You can listen to the podcast on all streaming platforms and stay up to date on their social media: @becca.and.lizzie