Published April 2022

New survey aims to highlight farmer and crofter wellbeing as a priority for Scottish agriculture

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New survey aims to highlight farmer and crofter wellbeing as a priority for Scottish agriculture.

With increasing concerns around farmer and crofter wellbeing, as pressures build in the industry, a range of agricultural partners have come together to launch a survey to better understand the needs and concerns of Scotland’s farmers and crofters, with the view of introducing a new wellbeing programme in 2022/23.

The research follows on from the successful “drought, adversity and breaking new ground” tour that took place in winter 2018 and saw over 2000 farmers attend one of fourteen events to hear New Zealand farmer Doug Avery, talk about his own challenges with mental health and wellbeing.

After the tour, a steering group was established to review the learnings, chaired by beef, sheep and arable farmer, John Scott of Fearn Farm, Ross-Shire.

Agriculture is facing unimaginable change that will impact generations and could require complete restructuring of farming practices. Many of these challenges we can’t control, they will happen regardless of how well we rear our livestock, grow our crops or manage our finances. This significantly impacts the way we think and farm, it tests our resilience and can, at times, take us down a dark path when we feel overwhelmed, anxious or simply just knackered,” said John Scott.

“When Doug visited Scotland, we were astounded by the response, highlighting the appetite from farmers and crofters, to better understand how we can manage our own wellbeing through shared learning, events and resources. This new survey will give us insights to understand how farmers and crofters are feeling, what type of activities and resources would best support them and how they should be delivered.”

The survey, supported by Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), the National Rural Mental Health Forum (run by Support in Mind Scotland), RHASS and the Scottish Rural Network (Scottish Government), aims to provide insights to emulate Farmstrong, a successful wellbeing programme in New Zealand that helps farmers to “live well, to farm well”.

The initiative is designed by farmers for farmers, to provide the resources and proven tools they need to manage their own wellbeing when faced with challenges that are often hard to predict, or control, from fluctuation commodity prices and the weather, to changing government legislation and market pressures.

Commenting on the survey, Kate Lamont from SRUC said “The survey has been designed by farmers, for farmers.  You can answer on your phone, tablet, computer or you can get a paper copy.  It would be really good to hear how you cope and what you think would help others.”

John added “Our hope is to launch the “Farmstrong” model here in Scotland, in 2022/23, developed for farmers by farmers. This research will be integral in ensuring we get it right and offer something that has huge benefits to all those involved, whilst also supporting and partnering with existing organisations and charities.”

To take part in the survey, farmers and crofters should visit www.dougaveryscotland.co.uk before the end of May 2022.

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