New research into the Farmstrong programme has, for the first time, shown a correlation between injuries on farms and farmers who have diminished wellbeing.

Farmstrong is a New Zealand-wide rural wellbeing initiative for farmers and growers to help them "live well to farm well."

An independent evaluation of the programme, funded by ACC, showed that 58 per cent of recently injured farmers linked their accident to stress associated with farm work.

Stressors included exhaustion, lack of sleep, coping with the ups and downs of farming, and being too busy to take a break or connect with friends and family.


The findings of the evaluation were significant, according to ACC, as agriculture is not only New Zealand's biggest export earner, but also one of its most high-risk industries - with about 13,500 injuries a year and annual claim costs of about $50 million.

Northland farmer Chris Biddles knows the risks all too well, as he is still recovering from a quad bike accident last year that left him with serious ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.

"I was really tired and because of that I made a dumb decision. That's the danger of fatigue. You do something you wouldn't normally do."

Agriculture also has one of the highest rates of fatalities among New Zealand workplaces, at an average of 17 a year since 2011.

"Farmers know how to make their livestock thrive and how to be good stewards of the land. They just need to make sure to look after themselves as well," said Paul Gimblett, ACC's Head of Workplace Safety and Levies.

During 2019, more than 18,000 farmers and farm workers participated in Farmstrong.

Some 20 per cent of those surveyed credited Farmstrong with improvement in their wellbeing and 11 per cent said it gave them more ability to cope with the challenges of farming.

A key to Farmstrong's success has been sharing farmer-to-farmer stories on social media channels and rural media about what works for them.


Other initiatives include workshops on healthy thinking and nutrition, fitness challenges, cycling tours, appearances at A and P shows and woolshed comedy shows.