Farming community urged to take part in the 'biggest survey of its kind' to build a bigger picture of the pressures it is facing

Farming charity the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has launched the biggest survey of its kind to build a fuller picture of challenges facing farmers.

The survey is part of a five year strategy by RABI

Working with the Centre of Rural Research at the University of Exeter and led by Professor of Rural Resource Management Matt Lobley, the Big Farming Survey has an ambitious target of gathering 26,000 responses.

Alicia Chivers, chief executive of the charity, said the survey – the largest research project relating to the wellbeing of farming people – was to identify how “increasingly complex” challenges in the sector were impacting on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the health of farming businesses.

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She said: “With mounting pressures and continued uncertainty in the sector, this vital research will provide a comprehensive overview of the farming community throughout England and Wales.

RABI has launched its Big Farming Survey

“It seeks to identify the specific challenges a generation of farming people face and highlight how these impact on daily life.”

RABI has set its target of gathering 26,000 survey responses in the weeks up to the closing date of March 31 and Ms Chivers is urging everyone in farming to support the project.

“To serve our community effectively, we require a greater understanding of how the challenges and uncertainties facing farming people are affecting daily life,” she said.

“We believe this important piece of research will deliver greater insight into the issues that impact on the community, day to day, and inform our understanding.

“It only takes 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire and everyone who participates will be making an important contribution towards building a comprehensive picture of life in agriculture today.

“The research will enable RABI and our partners to develop more effective tools and services to enhance farmer wellbeing, now and into the future.”

Ms Chivers said that beyond anecdotal or regional evidence, there was a pressing need for broad-scale, reliable evidence regarding the wellbeing of farming people.

“To achieve this we’re working with organisations and businesses throughout the industry to promote the Big Farming Survey through their networks.

“Even more importantly, we need individuals to get involved, set aside the time to complete the survey and ask the other members of your household or farming network to do the same.”

The Big Farming Survey is open to everyone in the farming community – farmers, farm workers, spouses and adult children – to gather as many different viewpoints as possible.

This latest initiative is part of RABI’s ambitious five-year strategy which Ms Chivers said was underpinned by its vision that no farmer should ever face adversity alone.

“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 they need.”