Mrs Ursula Walsh (Ulster)
Farming is a very stressful occupation and ranks in the top ten job groups with a high mortality from suicide. This presentation aims to highlight the results of recent research (involving over 90 Northern Ireland farmers) that found that bureaucracy remains a significant cause of stress to farmers. Farmers reported that particular issues, including inflexible deadlines and excessive paperwork, exacerbated the problem. The government’s policy of electronic by default, puts particular burdens on those farmers with limited IT skills and poor internet connections. The 2014 review of Northern Ireland business red tape ‘Making Life Simpler: Improving Business Regulation in NI’, made several recommendations including the implementation of the principles of regulatory reform such as proportionality, collaboration, support and regard for economic growth. Despite these recommendations, the farmers who participated in this research overwhelmingly reported that paperwork continued to be a considerable burden and cause of stress. These findings are not only concerning with regard to the mental health of individual farmers, but also within the context of adding to the pressures on these, mainly, small businesses.