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THE FARM BUSINESS SURVEY

What is the Farm Business Survey?
It is a sample survey commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and supported by the farming unions and has been widely recognised as the most authoritative source of information on the economics of farm businesses since it began in 1936. It is carried out annually by agricultural researchers from designated universities and agricultural colleges. For the East Midlands, and parts of the West Midlands, the Rural Business Research Unit, part of the University of Nottingham and based at Sutton Bonington, undertakes this research.

How are farms selected?
Farms are randomly selected from the June Census survey returns to provide a representative sample of around 280 farms covering the main farm types found in the region. A letter is sent to potential participants and if the farmer agrees, a convenient visiting date is arranged by phone. During this recruiting visit the farm area, farming system as well as other relevant information is obtained for classification purposes.

How is the information gathered?
A Researcher from the Unit usually visits the farm twice a year. On the first visit details of closing valuations, stock numbers and crop areas and other physical farm data is collected along with the farmer's financial accounts. The accounts are then analysed back at the office. A second visit is the arranged to return the accounts and to sort out any outstanding queries.

How do farmers benefit?
Co-operating farms are provided with their own detailed management accounts together with aggregated comparative data from farms of a similar type and size in the region.
Farmers' co-operation provides the farming unions, governments, the EU, educational establishments and others with accurate information for use in formulating effective policies and in teaching and research.

Is the survey confidential?
Each participating farm is known simply by a code number and details of individual farms are not published.

Who has access to the data?
The processed electronic data is passed on to Defra and EU in anonymous form. Results are published each year in the form of farm type and size group averages.

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