Press release More than seventy organizations join forces for farmer well-being

Campaign for well-being

Today in Zevekote (near Gistel in Belgium), Minister of Agriculture Jo Brouns presented an ambitious action plan to ensure that our farmers feel better. A wide range of organizations from the agricultural sector, civil society, the welfare sector and organizations of farmers (veterinarians, consultants, ...) are helping to implement this action plan. A VLAM campaign is also being used to call on the public to show appreciation for the work of our farmers and horticulturalists.

In recent years, the signals from agriculturalists and horticulturalists who are struggling with social and mental problems have become louder and louder. The greatest stress factors experienced by agricultural and horticultural workers are the regulations, the continuity of business operations, the administrative burden and pricing. The difficult work-life balance, as well as the uncertain future outlook, often prove to be a headache. Finally, many farmers experience a lack of social appreciation for the sector.

Minister of Agriculture Jo Brouns: "We really need our farmers in Flanders. They play an important role in food production and landscape management, but also in the fight against climate change and the creation of employment. We must therefore cherish them. I would like to thank all organizations that have taken on a commitment to improve the well-being of Flemish agriculture. Together we are building a solid and caring network for our farmers and we are committed to keeping this dynamic alive so that agriculture in Flanders has a sustainable future.'

Taking better care of our farmers

Conversations with farmers, signals from agricultural organizations and knowledge centers and the survey of the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) have prompted the then Flemish Minister of Agriculture, Hilde Crevits, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and ILVO in November 2020 to organize a round table on this theme. In the follow-up process, three working tables were organized in which government, researchers, experts but also farmers themselves participated. The result is the ambitious action plan that was presented today. Minister Jo Brouns absolutely endorses this plan and wants to work on it together with the sector.

More than seventy organizations from the agricultural sector, the midfield, the welfare sector and organizations of farmers (veterinarians, advisors, etc.) have explicitly committed themselves to support the implementation of the three central themes from the action plan:
  • Het bespreekbaar maken van mentale en sociale problemen bij landbouw(st)ers en hen doorverwijzen naar de juiste hulp, door bijvoorbeeld meer netwerkmomenten onder landbouwers te organiseren, in media en op evenementen getuigenissen te delen van landbouwers die eerder met mentale problemen kampten, Boeren op een Kruispunt als centraal aanspreekpunt verder te promoten …
  • Het versterken van de individuele vaardigheden van landbouw(st)ers, door onder andere loopbaanbegeleiding en coaching voor landbouwers uit te werken, meer aandacht te hebben voor mentaal welbevinden in leerplannen landbouwonderwijs en in naschoolse vormingen, evenals meer uitgebreide vormingen op vlak van management, bedrijfsvoering of financiële en digitale geletterdheid.
  • Het aanpakken van mogelijke stressfactoren bij landbouwers, door eenvoudigere regelgeving, organiseren van activiteiten die burger en landbouwer met elkaar in contact brengen, …
  • Making it possible to talk about mental and social problems among farmers and referring them to the right help, for example by organizing more networking moments among farmers, sharing in the media and at events testimonies of farmers who previously struggled with mental problems, further promoting Farmers at a Crossroads as a central contact point ...
  • Strengthening the individual skills of farmers, among other things by developing career guidance and coaching for farmers, paying more attention to mental well-being in agricultural education curricula and in after-school training, as well as more extensive training in the field of management, business operations or financial and digital literacy.
  • Tackling possible stress factors among farmers, through simpler regulations, organizing activities that bring citizens and farmers into contact with each other, etc.

More social recognition for our farmers

The same citizen is also called upon to do his/her bit and to show sufficient appreciation for the work of our farmers and horticulturalists. VLAM worked out a specific campaign under the slogan "Your sympathy gives our farmers energy!" to make consumers aware of the important role farmers play in our food supply.

Contact: Bart Croes, spokesperson Cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Work, Economy, Innovation and Agriculture