'Biggest' ever research project into farming mental health by farming help charity RABI gets off to "outstanding" start with more than 15,000 responding to survey

An ambitious survey which aims to build a fuller picture of challenges facing farmers has received an “outstanding” response with more than 15,000 people taking part.

The project is the biggest piece of research into farming mental health.

In January farming help charity, RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution), working with the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter, launched the Big Farming Survey – the largest ever research project into the health and wellbeing of the agricultural community.

From the outset, the survey had an ambitious target of reaching more than 20,000 people and with the first stage of the project now closed, Alicia Chivers, RABI CEO said the results had “exceeded expectations”.

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“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.

RABI's five year strategy is underpinned by its vision that ‘no farmer should ever face adversity alone’.

“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 and 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 survey will be published at a live event in the autumn.

Matt Lobley, Professor of Rural Resource Management at the University of Exeter and research lead, said: “The response from the farming community has been outstanding. Receiving around 15,500 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,” he added.

“During the 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 approach to the provision of future services for farming people,” Alicia said.

“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has completed, shared and supported the Big Farming Survey.”