We will only improve farm safety by looking out for each other

A powerful evening of brave, honest and inspiring accounts told of how physical and mental health has to be continually worked upon to nurture farmers’ wellbeing – and the industry’s safety record.

The Future Farmers of Yorkshire’s #Fit2Farm campaign culminated on Wednesday 20th November with a focus on mental health and a free event at Pavilions of Harrogate at the Great Yorkshire Showground that attracted more than 100 guests.

Stuart Roberts (pictured, left), vice president of the National Farmers’ Union, opened up about his battles with severe dyslexia and weight loss, and the challenges they have posed for his own wellbeing. Read more from Stuart here.

Welsh farmer Will Evans (pictured, right), host of the popular Rock and Roll Farming podcast, told of how learning to love running at the end of a day’s work had made him become a better husband, father-of-four and farmer. We report on his honest account here.

While consultant psychologist Dr Caroline Knott urged farmers who are feeling the strain of their livelihood’s inherent challenges to recognise when their ability to cope is waning.

Recognising the physical manifestations of ailing mental wellbeing – from physical pain to eczema, among other tell-tale symptoms – and then seeking support, can ensure farmers take fewer unnecessary risks that can lead to costly mistakes, serious injury and even death, Dr Knott said.

More from Dr Knott is available here.

The event was chaired by Future Farmers board member Neil Eastham, a farm animal vet based at Bishopton Veterinary Group in Ripon, who features in the video posted above.

He told attendees: “It’s okay not to be okay. Things might not be fine now but with signposting to professional help, things can be better in time.

“Thinking about it in an industry where people are our greatest asset, let’s just make sure we look after each other and let’s help Yorkshire be fit to farm.”

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, hailed the importance of the #Fit2Farm event, saying: “An event like this is a stark reminder to the farming community that if we want to improve our industry’s safety record, we all have a duty to ourselves and each other to strive collectively to look after both our physical and mental health.

“Being fit to farm is a fundamental responsibility we all share and the #Fit2Farm campaign has acted as a powerful platform for delivering this message.”

39 people died as a result of farming or other agriculture-related activities in Britain in 2018/19, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

What is clear is that the #Fit2Farm campaign must be only the start of a new ongoing conversation and call for action to address a trend that our industry is so desperate to put right.

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Stuart RobertsWill Evans speaking at the #Fit2Farm event