Paul Caskie, Principal Investigator for Administrative Data | Agricultural Research Collection (AD|ARC), discusses how the project started and how it’s going.
What prompted AD|ARC, and what’s it about?
We know that major policy changes are coming for UK agriculture. Environmental issues are moving centre stage and policy is rapidly developing to meet new objectives. Anticipating the impact of new policies and wider market and environmental changes on farmers and farm households is difficult. Much of the data that is used to develop policy relates to farm business activities and the impacts that farming has on the environment. Less is known about farmers and farm households and the dots between farm holdings, businesses, farmers and farm households are rarely joined.
This project sets out to address this evidence gap by linking a variety of existing public sector datasets and conducting research to:
- better understand who is working in farming;
- describe the composition and characteristics of farm households;
- investigate farmer and farm household health and wellbeing;
- explore factors influencing the prosperity and resilience of farm businesses and households; and
- establish factors impacting farmer engagement with agri-environment management schemes.
The project is being led by ADR Wales, but is UK wide in scope and membership. The ambition is to establish complementary data collections in each of the four UK administrations, so that research of interest to policymakers and other stakeholders can be undertaken at devolved and UK level.
As with all administrative data research, individual anonymity is guaranteed and all research activities are subject to ethical oversight. In addition, the project is engaging with representatives of farming communities around the UK via Stakeholder Reference Groups to ensure direct dialogue and input on matters of interest to them.
How’s it going?
It’s the first administrative data project with an agricultural theme, operating at UK scale, so there is much groundwork to do. This involves accessing individual datasets, bringing them into designated secure research spaces in each of the UK nations, and linking everything together. This aspect of the project is progressing at different speeds around the UK, but we hope to be sufficiently advanced to start research activities in the second half of this year (2021).
By the end of the project we hope to have reported new, policy-relevant insights at the UK and devolved levels, showcasing the value of a linked data platform for UK agriculture. This will be accessible on a controlled basis, providing an invaluable resource for ongoing research. We already see opportunities to further expand and develop AD|ARC beyond the timeframe of this project.
We want to reach and inform anyone and everyone with an interest in what we are doing. If you work in farming, represent or support farmers or farming households, or conduct research in this area, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please also spread the word about the project to colleagues and friends in the UK and beyond.
In the coming weeks and months, we will publish more blogs from different team members and project partners, starting with Alisha Davies from Public Health Wales.
I hope you find it interesting. Please get involved.
Paul Caskie, Principal Investigator, AD|ARC
You can get in touch with the AD|ARC team at firstname.lastname@example.org.