Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Assemblyman and member of the Stormont Agriculture Committee, has called on the police, farming minister and wider community to help stamp out the “vile scourge of menacing and crank calls to the farming community”.
Mr Swann, a past YFCU President and former Chairman of the influential Rural Youth Europe group, is the current North Antrim Ulster Unionist Association Chairman.
The stern warning came after Assemblyman Swann said he had been contacted by a number of members of the farming community, with horrifying reports of abusive phone calls that farmers and members of their families are now receiving
He added: “Having faced dramatic drops in the prices they are receiving for their produce, be it in milk or meat, terrible weather conditions that are effecting arable crops and potato harvests, the ever- spiralling increased costs of fuel, feed and fertiliser, there now farmers and members of their families who are struggling not just financially, but mentally with the stress and strain they are now under.
“To add to this pressure, farmers, but more likely their wives or young members of their families, are receiving phone calls, from an individual who asks the individual to listen while he apparently rips up paper at the other end of the phone, and then asks ‘did you hear that? That’s your farm profits and all you own being ripped up and thrown away’, and then laughs.
“To many this may not seem that intrusive, but to a farmer, their partner or a young member of their family, it is and can be a harrowing event, and in a rare instance may just be the final tipping point.
“I encourage anyone who receives one of these calls to report it to the telephone provider and ask them to trace the call, and then report it to the police and Ulster Farmers’ Union, so the severity of this nuisance can be traced.
“To anyone in the farming sector, farmer, partner or family member who is under pressure either mentally or financially, I ask them to seek assistance, from the Department, their Union or Rural Support, who are there to listen and help- http://www.ruralsupport.org.uk/ tel 0845 606 7 607,” urged Assemblyman Swann.