Farming families are being urged to ask what they want from their lives – in the same time it takes to brush their teeth.
The “2 Minute Farmer” (2MF) project – a new initiative launched by Duchy College’s Rural Business School and Stephens Scown solicitors – aims to get farming families talking about their wishes and objectives.
The first film (above), features a couple grappling with topics such as bills, bank statements, family obligations, lack of holidays and the desire to support their children in a conversation over a farmhouse kitchen table that will strike a chord with many.
Too many farmers are simply plodding along, not asking themselves the tough questions – and perhaps the toughest one of all is: why are we actually doing this?
The project aims to encourage farmers to understand their aims, goals and motives.
By breaking down big issues into bite-sized chunks, farmers can achieve more profitable businesses and take away some of the stress that is causing mental health issues.
“‘Why are we doing this?’” is a seemingly simple question, but a lot of farmers can’t answer it,” said Richard Soffe, director of Duchy College’s Rural Business School, who is heading the project in tandem with Mike Rowe from Stephens Scown solicitors.
“It’s not about scaring people or encouraging them to quit farming, it’s about kickstarting a conversation.
“If people can answer this question, they’ll be more motivated, more able to tackle challenges, whether they’re Brexit- or weather-related, and their technical and business performance will improve.
“Working 18-hour days, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year without knowing why is a recipe for unhappiness and mental health issues.”
Backed by the Agri-tech Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Project, a £9.6m initiative running to March 2020 to increase research, development and innovation in the agri-tech sector, the 2MF team will add further short videos, addressing issues such as succession, with viewers able to find supporting information on the website.
“It’s designed to help people tackle complicated and sometimes fraught topics in a manageable, practical way,” said Mr Rowe, an agribusiness consultant with Stephens Scown.
“A lot of the problems farming businesses and families have – whether it’s a lack of investment, mental or physical health issues, accidents or succession conundrums – can ultimately be traced back to a lack of money, and it’s technical efficiency that largely dictates how much money people make.
“If people understand why they’re farming, their technical efficiency should improve which, in turn, should boost their business’ profitability and resilience.”