“We are not indestructible”

Ambitious survey to explore challenges in farming and how these affect physical and mental health, as well as businesses.

©Tim Scrivener

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has today launched the Big Farming Survey – the largest of its kind in England and Wales – to learn more about the impacts of increasingly complex challenges facing farmers.

Aiming to get 26,000 responses from farming people, the survey will look at how challenges are impacting physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the health of farming businesses.

“RABI is acutely aware of the mounting pressures in the sector,” says chief executive, Alicia Chivers. “To serve our community effectively, we require a greater understanding of how these factors affect daily life which is why we’ve launched the Big Farming Survey.

“It is vital that the voices of farming people are heard. It only takes 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire and everyone who participates will be making an important contribution. Setting the ambitious goal of 26,000 responses will ensure we can build the most comprehensive picture of life in agriculture today. The research will enable us to formulate more effective tools and support strategies to enhance farmer wellbeing now and into the future.”

Delivered in partnership with the Centre for Rural Research based at the University of Exeter, and supported by key stakeholders and partners across the agricultural industry, the Big Farming Survey is open to all farmers, farm workers, spouses and adult-aged children.

The Big Farming Survey is a key strand of RABI’s ambitious 5-year strategy that will enable the charity to reach a far wider audience. It’s a further step towards achieving their vision that no farmer should ever face adversity alone.

“There is growing awareness that there are some fundamental wellbeing issues in farming that need to be better understood and addressed,” Ms Chivers adds. “We are working with a range of partners so that we can develop effective, preventative services that fulfil the needs of farming people and make a valuable difference.

“Farming people are raised to be ‘robust’ and ‘resilient’, yet these expectations simply aren’t realistic. We are not indestructible. The reality is we all have the capacity to be affected by difficulties and challenges. By initiating frank and honest conversations, I believe we can begin to ‘normalise’ our vulnerabilities. Breaking down these invisible barriers will ultimately empower farming people – ensuring they can move forward more positively by accessing the support that they need.”

The survey runs until 31st March 2021 and can be completed online at www.rabi.org.uk/BigFarmingSurvey. Alternatively, printed copies in English and Welsh can be requested by emailing FarmSurvey@exeter.ac.uk.

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