Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Farmers encouraged to use new tool to take back control

Farmers are being encouraged to use a new two-minute tool to reassess the health of their business, work-life balance and financial affairs in easy, manageable chunks.

Developed in conjunction with a group of farmers in Cornwall, Two-Minute Farmer addresses all the complexities of modern farming life, but in a straightforward and practical way.

It allows farmers to assess 10 elements – including paperwork, environment and lifestyle – of their daily lives which affect individual success and wellbeing, identifying areas for improvement and linking to a knowledge hub to help make positive changes.

“We started out by holding informal meetings in a local pub and what emerged was that everyone needed different things – the complexity was immense and it is only increasing,” explains Harriet Housam, who led the project with support from Stephens Scown and Agri-tech Cornwall.

“What was also clear was the mental element of feeling overwhelmed, so we created the Tractor Wheel of Life to consider the key questions which affect farmers’ business and physical wellbeing.

“In this way we can break big complex issues into two-minute chunks so they’re less overwhelming.”

Farmers score each element out of 10, with zero meaning that area requires the most work and 10 indicating an area of complete satisfaction. They then plot those scores on a wheel chart to see if it creates a balanced wheel – which will roll easily – or a very spiky one, indicating that there are problem areas to address.

“A healthy and resilient business is all about balance,” says Miss Housam. “And the feedback on the tool has been really good. It has helped farmers to step back and make real positive changes – to impact on someone’s life like that is really rewarding.”

Having proved the concept in Cornwall, Miss Housam now wants to roll it out across the UK and to create an app. This could also be used to collect anonymous data on regional trends in how farmers are faring, which could then feed into suitable knowledge exchange in regional roadshows.

“Farmers are already using the Wheel as a baseline for meetings with consultants and accountants, and we’re working with a range of partners to provide support like the Farming Health Hub.”

This brings together private, public and voluntary organisations to provide advice, support and guidance to farming communities on all aspects of their physical, mental and business health.

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