Farming charity RABI has appointed the University of Exeter to conduct what it described as a "once-in-a-generation survey of farming people" to help understand mental and physical wellbeing issues in agriculture.
The research project launches early in 2021 and is said to be the largest survey ever undertaken to gain an understanding directly from farming people of the stresses they face and the impacts on their wellbeing of these challenges.
RABI has worked with a number of key stakeholders to help develop the survey including the NFU, NFU Cymru, Defra, Welsh Government, the Worshipful Company of Farmers, the National Rural Mental Health Forum, the Prince’s Countryside Fund, Farmers Weekly and Farmers Guardian. With RABI hoping to achieve 26,000 responses to the survey across England and Wales, partners across the sector will be engaged to help promote the survey as RABI hopes to reach as many farming people as possible.
“We know the farming community is facing changing and increasingly complex challenges,” said Alicia Chivers, RABI’s chief executive. “This research is fundamental to ensuring we really understand how these pressures impact on our people, allowing us to continue to develop really effective tools and support to enhance their wellbeing.
“Working in partnership with the Centre for Rural Research based at Exeter University and key stakeholders across our sector, we want to gather the most comprehensive, reliable information directly from farming people. The survey results will not only inform RABI’s service offering in the future, but as they will be widely published, will additionally provide the agricultural sector with an overview of the issues that the current generation of farming people are facing. We must work collectively now to ensure the right support is available for all who need it.”
The research will be led by professor of rural resource management Matt Lobley, who has over 30 years’ experience of conducting research with farming families. His colleague Dr Rebecca Wheeler, who is also part of the research team, said: “As well as establishing the health status of members of the agricultural community, for the first time this research will explore the relationship between mental health and wellbeing, physical health and the health of the business.”