RABI’s Big Farming Survey results have revealed that despite the farming community facing significant mental and physical health challenges, more than 50% remain optimistic about the future of their farm businesses.
The results, which are based on over 15,000 survey responses, were launched on 14 October, to 70 influential representatives from the agricultural sector at a launch event in Birmingham.
In response to the findings, RABI has outlined five core themes informed by the hardest-hitting statistics and called on the sector to help drive an effective response to the challenges identified.
Following a welcome address by Chief Executive, Alicia Chivers, the University of Exeter’s Centre for Rural Policy Research Team, Dr Rebecca Wheeler and Professor Matt Lobley, presented their results. This was followed by RABI corporate partnership manager, Suzy Deeley, who shared further insight on five key stats that the industry must respond to:
- 36% of the farming community are probably or possibly depressed.
- Over one-half of women (58%) experience mild, moderate or severe anxiety.
- An average of six factors cause stress across the farming community. The most commonly reported sources of stress are; regulation, compliance and inspection, Covid-19, bad/unpredictable weather, loss of subsides/future trade deals.
- Over half (52%) of the farming community experience pain and discomfort, one in four have mobility problems and 21% have problems in undertaking usual tasks due to health issues.
- 59% of respondents believe their business is viable over the next five years.
Deeley highlighted some of the positive outtakes within the data, which illustrates the importance of building on the farming community’s strengths.
“This survey of a generation has revealed that despite the many challenges facing our community, farming people continue to be incredibly resilient and this is something we should focus on. We owe it to every farming person to use this evidence to take action to improve farmer wellbeing,” says Deeley.
“We believe that farming people and the sector more widely must collaborate to develop solutions to the issues identified. Therefore, RABI will use the results to inform the evolution of our services and welcome others to participate in shaping future farming support,” Deeley continues.
In response to the Big Farming Survey research, Deeley explained that RABI will soon be launching pilots of three new support schemes. These include an accredited, bespoke farming mental health first aid training service, access to in-person mental health support, and further trials of RABI’s Community Pillars initiative.