A growing number of farmers are committing suicide because they are unable to deal with huge financial pressures and a burgeoning amount of red tape imposed by the Government, farming organisations have warned.
In the last three months, four farmers in Hereford-shire alone have resorted to suicide, with one case linked directly to a call he received from his bank.
The NFU said many farmers are concerned at the amount of money they will get in the new Single Payment Scheme, which replaces previous subsidies by paying farmers for the amount of land they farm rather than the amount they produce.
Other regulations changing the way farmers deal with waste and the recent Government strategy to deal with TB, which will see farmers paying for pre-movement testing, have placed heavy burdens on many in the industry who are already struggling with poor prices and higher fuel costs.
Charlie Morton, policy adviser for the NFU West Midlands, said: "There is an awful lot of legislation and red tape coming down on farmers at the moment, particularly with the Single Payment Scheme and waste regulations and the latest TB announcement.
"It is going to mean more costs for farmers but they haven't had payments and yet they are having to shell out without having any money.
"It is the last straw for many. Farmers are having huge problems and I know of one suicide in Hereford-shire recently which was as a direct result of a call from the bank."
James Morrish, of the Rural Stress Information Network based in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, said that, excluding the period during foot-and-mouth, the number of calls to the charity were at an all-time high.
"There have been a number of suicides in Herefordshire in the farming community and we are still waiting to hear from the coroner's office about the final conclusions," he said.
"With the enormous changes we have seen in the industry over the last few years, it is very difficult for many to change just like that and that is really what is being asked.
"Our calls remain high... the long and short of it is that some will fail and some will have to get out of the industry."
* The Rural Stress Information Network can be reached on 02476 412916 ..SUPL: