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£600,000 project aims to use administrative data to improve the lives of farming families

A grant of almost £600,000 has been announced by Administrative Data Research UK to harness data to better understand the characteristics of farm households with a view of improving future policies as well as enhancing the wellbeing of farmers and their families. 

The AD|ARC (Administrative Data | Agricultural Research Collection) project builds from the Supporting farming communities at times of uncertainty report published by Public Health Wales’ Research & Evaluation Division in September last year. 

The investment will create the first UK-wide data platform focused on agriculture. Through the gathering of public sector data the aims are to better understand the people who work in this sector in the UK and their defining characteristics.

It is hoped that research findings will inform future policy decision making, potentially leading to better responses to challenges such as improving productivity, responding to environmental pressures, generating better health outcomes, and improving farm household income.

The AD|ARC project will link together the EU Farm Structure Survey 2010, the June Agricultural Census 2010 for agricultural and land use data, and the Census of Population 2011 for socio-demographic data for farmers, members of the farmer’s household and farm workers. These existing data sources provide a resource with a high level of consistency across the UK. 

The project 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 data collection over time. 

Welcoming the investment, Dr Alisha Davies, Head of Research and Evaluation at PHW and AD|ARC Principal Investigator, said:

“The AD|ARC project is a significant step towards generating the insights needed to better understand and inform decisions effecting farmers and the wider farming community across the UK.

“Farming families deal with uncertainty on a daily basis, but even more so in the context of Brexit, climate change and disease. This UK wide project has been informed by our work in Wales on resilience amongst farmers and their families. 

“The programme will be developed with input from those involved in the farming sector and pave the way for better knowledge to inform policy and practice on matters that affect them, their families and their livelihoods.”