Wednesday 17 April 2024

Priest calls on rural communities to ‘love your neighbour’ as rain continues

Stream episode REVEREND LESTER SCOTT ADELAIDE MEMORIAL CHURCH HERITAGE WEEK  by KCLR96FM podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

A Church of Ireland priest has called on rural communities to lend a listening ear and “love your neighbour” as wet weather continues to create difficult conditions across the country.

Reverend Dr. Lester Scott, who is based in Co. Carlow, told Agriland that he has received numerous phone calls from farmers who are struggling with stress and anxiety because of the persistent rain.

Rev. Scott, a farmer’s son from Ballagh, Co. Tipperary, said for many, farming is an “isolated and lonely enterprise”.

He believes that the recent wet weather and ongoing inflationary pressures is “a toxic recipe for poor mental health for those who labour so hard to provide the quality food which sustains us and which we enjoy”

Rev. Scott added: “Irish farmers are drowning, not just in the wet weather, but also, with the problem of costs.”

“Mental health and the pervading deterioration of it is a real concern for me in my predominantly farming ministerial context,” Rev. Scott said.

He provides “pastoral support and a listening ear” to those who need it – without any religious overtones and to anyone who needs it – from the perspective of being a farmer’s son.

“One farmer told me the other day that his life is very isolated, he is out on the land, working all hours and has very little time for family life.

“With the income levels as they are and having to put money back into the enterprise, it really is not viable,” Rev. Scott added.

He believes that the “Achilles heel” of farming will always be the weather but farmers are currently facing issues,” such as slurry and not being able to get it out onto the land, just like the livestock”.

Rural communities

Rev. Scott also told Agriland that these issues are just a “snapshot” of the worries that farmers and rural communities are facing currently.

He said there is also the issue of the “poor payments” that farmers receive for the hard-work they do, while the EU is being “flooded with cheap food” and it is hard to compete with cheaper food.

“It seems like everything is done to trip up the Irish farmer,” Rev. Scott said.

Originally from a farm in Co. Tipperary one of his key concerns is that he believes many farmers will put on a “brave face” and will not talk about what is going on.

“People in cities or politicians do not really understand what it is like to be a farmer, and the issues farmers are facing now,” he added.

With wet conditions set to continue Rev. Scott is keen to let people know that while he cannot solve the current weather problems, he can be a “listening ear” to those in need.

Rev. Scott said that he wants to inspire other people to  “love your neighbour as yourself” and offer a “supportive, listening ear” to anyone in their rural community who may be struggling.