By Tim Wilkinson
The fourth Centre for Rural Policy Research South West Farm Survey went out in the post in October 2020 and we have a great set of responses to process and analyse. Having run a farmer survey for the South West in 2006, 2010 and 2016, we are excited to see how the data compares with previous years. As in preceding years, the survey was sent to land managers in Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and the Isles of Scilly. This is a broadly defined South West, which was initially drawn from New Labour’s South West region (abolished in 2009) and maps onto the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) region for the South West (UK).
The 2020 survey includes a wide range of questions: about the farm business and how it has changed, labour, use of technology, attitudes towards agriculture, succession plans and much, much more. Many of the survey questions are repeated (or evolved) from those asked in previous years so we can track trends and build a longitudinal data set; others are designed in response to current issues, this time, including Covid impacts, Brexit and Environmental Land Management.
We originally planned to launch the survey in March 2020, but delayed for obvious reasons. We sent out 4000 questionnaires in late October 2020 and reminders in early December. We have had 1110 returned – an incredible 28% response rate (a huge thank you to everyone who took part!). The data is currently being entered and processed. With 41 questions in each individual survey, there are well over 45,000 answers to record – a monumental job! We will be starting the analysis of the data in April and are looking forward to sharing results from the survey soon.