A new study sponsored by StorySeeds Ltd has shown that UK farmers are amazingly positive, despite the various challenges the industry is facing.
The study reports that there is an enviable resilience within the industry, with no other industry being able to boast the foundational framework that will steer agriculture through difficult times.
It further provided evidence for something we already knew; that farming is life, not a job.
Mike Heisig, the lead researcher from StorySeeds, explains: “We used new psychological tests to delve into farmers’ unconscious thinking about the viability of their farming business and compared it with what they told us in conventional questions.
“Imagine that inside each of us is a non-conscious world that provides meaning to our conscious actions and decisions. These tests are designed to reach into and engage with that non-conscious processing. It’s like talking to the monkey on the inside.”
During questioning about the viability of their businesses, out of more than 280 sample farmers, there was an average score of just 6/10 – a very low score as these measures go.
However, when examining the inner attitudes of farmers, the results revealed a happiness level of 69%. What is said to be remarkable about this is that the national average is just 62%. According to StorySeeds Ltd, these differences matter and prove that farmers are amazingly resilient.
Across the farming sector, the happiness score varied from a low of 65% up to a high of 74%. Psychologists agree that success does not lead to happiness, but instead starts from happiness, so these figures are important.
Looking at the inner motivation helped to explain why there is a high level of resilience across the industry.
Mr Heisig said: “When we look at the detailed pattern of the motivational spectrum that drives farmers to farm, it is not comparable with the characteristics of the motivation of ‘Joe Public’ to do an ordinary (non-farming) job.
“The motivations, such as the development of personal knowledge or individual skill sets in the job or the development of interpersonal relationships, are broader and deeper and more characteristic of what we would see in the big make-up of motivations in general life.
“Now we have the evidence to demonstrate what everyone in farming intrinsically (non-consciously) already knew: farming is not just a job, it is a life.”
The report further found that this emotional resilience is founded on a full-life commitment to farming and that it is ensuring rather than transient with the capacity to carry the industry through tough times.
This should therefore be recognised by the rest of the players in the industry who have a part in a shared future.