A new report by the University of Canberra shows that while Australian farmers are economically efficient producers, they also experience unique challenges to their wellbeing.
Farmers and Agriculture report author Jacki Schirmer drew on data from 3700 Australian farmers who took part in the 2014 Regional Wellbeing Survey to produce a snapshot of how those who work the land for a living are coping.
“While many Australian farmers are going well, with positive wellbeing and experiencing good farming conditions, that’s not the case for everyone,” Dr Schirmer said.
“What is particularly concerning is that farmers are twice as likely as those outside farming to be experiencing moderate to high levels of psychological distress.
“The data shows that farmers in Queensland, much of which is currently experiencing severe drought - as well as crop growers, wine grape and other fruit and vegetable growers and those making a loss on the farm - are more likely to be suffering high psychological distress.”
Dr Schirmer said the financial situation on the farm was important to wellbeing.
“Just under half of all our farmers surveyed are profitable and another 20 per cent is covering their costs, but about 32 per cent is losing money each year and finding it hard to service their debts,” she said.
The report shows farmers commonly report facing numerous barriers to the successful development of their farm, including:
· Rising input costs (82 per cent of Australian farmers).
· Falling prices (74 per cent).
· Drought (70 per cent).
· Lack of adequate telecommunications infrastructure (63 per cent).
· Red tape (62 per cent).
· Rising electricity costs (62 per cent).
The 2015 Regional Wellbeing Survey is now open, and Australians living in rural and regional areas can take part by completing the survey at www.regionalwellbeing.org.au or by phoning 1800981499 to have a copy of the survey posted to them.