FOOT and mouth is creating even greater stress and pressure on hard pressed farmers and the rural community, the Samaritans said this week.

The Samaritans provide emotional support to people in crisis. Volunteers are standing by to offer confidential emotional support to anyone feeling overwhelmed by difficulties.

"We know that many people in rural areas are experiencing a deeply traumatic time in the face of this latest crisis," said Eric Rowland, the director of Worcester Samaritans.

"We particularly want farmers to know that we are there to help share the burden of distress and uncertainty about the future caused but yet another setback."

In February 2000, Hereford Samaritans received 1,180 calls. This February, they received 1,519 calls, nearly a third more.

The Worcester branch covers the whole county and last year received almost 14,000 calls.

Worcester Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day on 01905 21121. The Hereford branch is on 01432 269000.

Farmers wishing to communicate with the Samaritans by e-mail can do so on