Wellbeing on the radar for younger farmers

New research from the biggest study of its kind in New Zealand has found farmers aged under 35 want to invest more in their wellbeing.


Workload, fatigue, relationships, sleep and time off-farm are some of the main wellbeing challenges facing younger farmers today.


The milestone study, commissioned by rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong, found 64 per cent of younger farming men and 77 per cent of women reported at least one wellbeing issue had a large impact on their life.


The research also reinforced the link between wellbeing and risk of injury/accident. Two-thirds reported a wellbeing issue had contributed to one of their worst on-farm accidents or injuries in the last 12 months.


Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan says having such a large response, with close to 900 taking part, the surveys shows wellbeing is definitely on the radar for younger farmers.


“They are the future of farming and despite the ups and downs of the industry, there is so much they enjoy about it. Knowing 84 per cent of women and 74 per cent of men are saying they want to invest in ways to improve their wellbeing is really pleasing.”


Thinking strategies to deal with ups and downs of farming, how to be happy, people and communication skills, and staff management were the topics younger farming men expressed a high interest in learning more about.


Meanwhile women expressed a high interest in nutrition, how to be happy, self-confidence, self-worth, self-compassion; thinking strategies to deal with ups and downs; and exercise.


Women also reported higher levels of issues that had ‘large’ or greater impact on their wellbeing compared to men, and the effect was more pronounced for female sharemilkers and contract milkers.

 Several younger farmers during in-depth interviews identified “two years of drought” and “terrible wet weather” as a source of significant stress.


The research also confirmed there is plenty about farming life that young farmers enjoy.


For many, farming brings a genuine sense of accomplishment, reward and recognition. For some this manifested in “winning dairy industry awards”, “hitting targets and getting good results on farm and having your name out in the farming sector”.


Others liked the sense of achievement and task-driven nature of the work “ticking things off”.


Others mentioned their fondness for the working environment itself, such as the pleasure of seeing animals or things they’d planted grow and flourish.


The combination of the insightful research and survey findings has provided rich data for better understanding the needs of younger farmers, says Gerard.


“Farmstrong will increasingly include within its wellbeing initiatives, stories, tips and resources on the topics that younger farmers said were of highest interest.


“The research has also shed light on the best social, media, organisational and network channels to reach them.”


A summary of the results is at: www.farmstrong.co.nz/resources/


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