New research by national charity The Farming Community Network (FCN) is seeking to better understand the impact of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on UK farmers’ health and wellbeing.

The study is exploring the emotional, financial and physical impacts of bTB and the long-term ramifications these may have had on the farmer, farm family or farm business.

The researchers are also hoping to hear about farmers’ experiences of government policies to control and eradicate bTB.

As part of the research FCN is running a survey that will help the charity to better understand how farmers and farm families perceive the threat of bTB. The aim of the survery is to help improve its support to those at risk or affected, using a bTB breakdown.

The survey, which is open for responses until mid-August, is available online here.

A Welsh-language version of the survey is available here.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Farmers who have experienced a bTB breakdown are being encouraged to fill the survey in and to share their experiences.

The charity is also inviting those who fill in the survey to take part in an optional longer-form interview from September onwards.

Dr Jude McCann, Chief Executive Officer, The Farming Community Network, said: “We know all too well the devastating impact bTB can have on farms in the UK.

“The anxiety associated with bTB testing, and the unfortunate outcome when a bTB breakdown does occur, can cause irreversible damage to a farm business and can significantly impact the health and wellbeing of farming families.

“We hope this study will help to shed light on this issue, provide farmers with the opportunity to share their own experiences with bTB, and help FCN and the agencies we work with to better support farmers affected.”

Linda Jones, FCN Cymru National Manager, said: “I would urge cattle farmers in Wales to complete this short survey in order for us to fully understand and assess not just the impact of a bTB breakdown, but in addition, how the stress and worry associated with an upcoming bTB test affects farming families.”

North Wales farmer and FCN Ambassador Will Evans said: “This is an important study that will help our industry to better understand the impact of bTB on farmers’ health and wellbeing.

“The threat of bTB is endemic in parts of the UK – the findings of this study will help FCN and the wider industry in enhancing our understanding of the impacts of this awful disease and developing targeted support.”

The study follows a report in 2009 conducted by FCN (Stress and Loss – a report on the impact of Bovine TB on farming families).

This included interviews with 68 livestock farmers in the bTB hotspot areas of South West England, and eastern Wales.

The findings highlighted the serious and widespread impact of bTB on farmers and demonstrated that this impact commonly extended across all family members as evidenced in their psychological and physical health, as well as in their overall financial and social wellbeing.