Farming with Dyslexia Campaign Gathers Pace

NFU Scotland’s Farming with Dyslexia Parliamentary Reception, held in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 10 March, saw more than 60 farmers, stakeholders and politicians gathering to discuss dyslexia within the agricultural community.

The event, hosted by Claudia Beamish MSP, and sponsored by NFU Mutual, gave representatives from a range of organisations the opportunity to learn about dyslexia and hear about what’s being done to help those affected within the farming industry.

Farming with Dyslexia

Farming with Dyslexia

NFU Scotland’s Farming With Dyslexia (FWD) campaign, launched in August last year, is seeking better awareness and practical solutions to make life easier for dyslexic members of the farming community.

Steered by NFU Scotland, the FWD Working Group was borne from the recognition that dyslexia is a real, but often hidden, issue among the farming sector. Whilst one in 10 of the general population are dyslexic, some 25 per cent of agricultural students at SRUC are receiving support for dyslexia, it is believed this heritable condition is more prevalent within the farming sector than previously thought. However, due to stigma and poor understanding, it can remain undiagnosed and can be problematic for those dealing with communications, regulation and form-filling within the agriculture industry.

The Group brings together organisations working within the rural sector, including the Scottish Government, Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, RSABI, Scotland’s Rural College, Forestry Commission Scotland, Dyslexia Scotland and the Crofting Commission. Representatives from all these organisations attended last night’s reception.

NFU Scotland continues to work with Dyslexia Scotland to further its understanding, and provide support to its members.

Dyslexic farmers Sandy Murray and Sandy McCreath explained the issues they have faced and their involvement with the campaign so far.

NFU Scotland Vice President Rob Livesey commented:
“Last night’s Parliamentary Reception shows the distance the campaign has covered since launching. However, there is still work to be done, and we will continue to work with others as we progress to make life easier for dyslexic people working in land-based industries.

“We are grateful to Claudia Beamish MSP for hosting the event, and to NFU Mutual for its financial contribution. Since bringing the issues for dyslexic farmers associated with paperwork to light, we continue to have very positive dialogue with Scottish Government about measures that can be put in place to assist those living with dyslexia and working in rural industries.”

South Scotland MSP, Claudia Beamish, who sponsored the Parliamentary Reception, said:
“People would perhaps not immediately associate dyslexia as having any impact on farming but the effects can be significant. I am delighted that NFUS is working to raise awareness of this important issue through the Farming with Dyslexia campaign.

“It is vitally important that resources are in place to assist farmers with dyslexia to ensure systems of communication with regulatory bodies are more accessible and they are not disadvantaged.

“It is also important to tackle any stigma associated with the condition, so farmers are comfortable with seeking support.”

Martin Malone Regional Manager NFU Mutual Insurance Scotland and Northern Ireland commented:
“As Scotland’s leading rural insurer we work hard to support initiatives which benefit farming. This is a fantastic scheme which is attracting attention from a wide range of organisations and can benefit many people so we are delighted to be backing it.”

Scotland's Chief Agricultural Officer David Barnes said: “We know that dyslexia affects a significant number of people working in agriculture, and the Scottish Government and our agencies are firmly committed to ensuring appropriate support is in place.

“We already offer our customers additional help and guidance if required, and the input of the Farming With Dyslexia Group is proving extremely valuable as we continue to develop our new, simpler and easier to use farm and rural funding application and payment system, Rural Payments and Services."


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