Counselling help for crisis-hit farmers

A task force to examine ways of overcoming the social care and
economic consequences of the foot and mouth crisis in Cumbria is
due to meet for the first time next week.

Representatives from the agricultural, business and tourist
industries and voluntary organisations will sit on the task force
alongside MEPs and MPs.

The council’s foot and mouth action team, which has had social
services involvement since it was set up a month ago, will feed its
reports into the impact on social care and the economy to the task

An issue that the task force is likely to consider is offering
counselling to members of the agricultural community who are facing
an increasingly stressful time. Cumbria Stress Forum, a voluntary
organisation on the task force, is taking a growing number of calls
from farmers and individual small business owners worried about the

The task force will also pull together proposals for special
assistance to put before the government and look at the local
action to alleviate some of the difficulties caused by the

This week the number of confirmed cases of foot and mouth in
Cumbria has risen to more than 50, among the highest totals in the
country. The national total had climbed to above 200 by

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