A new data research project has been launched aiming to improve the lives and productivity of farmers across the United Kingdom.
The project seeks to better understand the characteristics of farms with a view to improving future policies and enhancing the wellbeing of farmers.
ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) has announced a grant of almost £600,000 to spearhead the AD|ARC (Administrative Data | Agricultural Research Collection) project.
It will bring together public sector data on agricultural and land use activities with demographic, educational and health data to better understand the people who work in the sector and their defining characteristics.
The project will involve the farming community throughout in the development of research questions and the interpretation and communication of findings.
Farming in the UK underpins the nation’s food security, generates economic benefits and shapes a rich and varied landscape.
The aim of the project is to provide evidence to help government better understand and support farmers, their households and communities.
It is hoped the findings will inform future policy decision making, potentially leading to better responses to challenges such as improving productivity, responding to environmental pressures and improving farm household income.
The project will link data on agricultural and land use activities collected for the EU Farm Structure Survey 2010, with socio-demographic data for farmers, members of the farmer’s household and farm workers.
Researchers will also seek to acquire data about farm subsidy payments, farm turnover, farm family health and educational attainment.
Although the project will not collect new data, the intention is to update and extend the collection over time as administrative datasets are refreshed.
As a pilot, the project will seek to bring together as much data as possible on the characteristics of the wider rural community in Wales and to examine their education and health.
Dr Paul Caskie, of NI's Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute and AD|ARC Principal Investigator said: “Farming in the UK underpins the nation’s food security, generates economic benefits and shapes a rich and varied landscape.
"Likewise, farming families, residing in the same location often over many generations, are vital to the social make-up of rural areas.
"Farming is at a crossroads in the UK as a result of Brexit and phasing out of policies implemented under the EU Common Agricultural Policy."
He added the £600,000 investment was a significant move to better understand how people working in the sector, especially farm families, can be better served and supported.
"By linking and analysing – in a sensitive and secure way – existing data from a number of sources, we can help to highlight where policies to aid the sector are most effectively delivered.
“AD|ARC will create a data hub to enable the generation of new evidence to support policy affecting farming, farmers and farming households for years to come,” Dr Caskie said.
All data utilised in the UK-wide programme will be de-identified – meaning all personal identifiers have been removed.
It will be held in a secure environment and only made available to researchers undertaking approved projects, subject to strict governance and disclosure control measures.