UK_RABI_Alicia Chivers CEO

Alicia Chivers, RABI CEO

Farming charity the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has extended its thanks to the farming sector as it concludes the first stage of its largest ever research project into the health and wellbeing of farming people throughout England and Wales.

Setting an ambitious target from the onset, farming people responding to the Big Farming Survey have delivered the most comprehensive level and range of data ever collected, RABI said.

Once analysed, the research findings will inform the development of RABI and other organisations in the sector, working with others to provide future support and service strategies for farming people.

“Working collaboratively with key stakeholders across the sector has been integral to achieving such a high response rate. To ensure we gathered responses from the widest possible range of farming people, we had to be ambitious on behalf of our community,” said Alicia Chivers, CEO of RABI.

“The results have exceeded our expectations and astounded many, including one research centre who advised us a response rate of over a couple of thousand was unattainable. We are hugely grateful to every organisation and individual who has supported the Big Farming Survey.

“Our objective was to deliver statistically valid findings that encompass the diversity in farming today. We have more than achieved this. The results will provide a true reflection of the pressures and the impacts that people are facing, both from a personal and business perspective.”

Working in partnership with the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter, the findings from the Big Farming Survey will be published at a live launch event in the autumn.

“The response from the farming community has been outstanding. Receiving around 15.5k responses means we have a really robust dataset reflecting different farming situations, a broad range of farm types and sizes, and a good mix of tenures, upon which we will base our analysis,” said Matt Lobley, Professor of Rural Resource Management at the University of Exeter and research lead.

Although the survey has now closed, the work is far from over, RABI said. As the University of Exeter now begin to analyse the responses, RABI continues to lead discussions about the provision of services to support farmer wellbeing.

“During this next stage of data analysis, we will be working closely with other sector stakeholders to consider how to apply the findings to develop a targeted and thorough approach to the provision of future services for farming people,” Chivers said.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has completed, shared and supported the Big Farming Survey. Through our combined efforts, we can develop the best possible tools to enhance farmer and business resilience now and for years to come.”

RABI is UK farming's oldest and largest charity offering financial support, practical care and guidance to farming people of all ages facing adversity.