Managing mental health as a new dairy entrant

James Scott

James Scott

NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador, North

James Scott

NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador James Scott is in his first year as a dairy farmer. He explains the challenges he’s faced so far and how he juggles the day-to-day of running the farm and managing his mental health.

Why go into dairy farming?

This is a question I have been asked over and over as a new entrant into the dairy industry. I will admit I have thrown myself into the deep end of what is an exciting and ever-changing industry.

Opportunities like this don’t often come around and luckily it did for me. My father initially bought this farm for us to expand and increase numbers of our sheep and beef, but I asked if we could think about starting dairy farming; with the farm historically being a dairy farm, and with him in his old age he replied “if you think you’re up to it”.

‘The best decision of my life’

There must be something in my blood as my great grandfather was a dairy farmer and met my great grannie at the Cheshire Cheese Show in Nantwich, and with me being the last farmer’s son in a family that has farmed for more than 300 years I didn’t want to let it come to an end.

So, what next? I had to go and learn how to dairy farm.

It is important to remain positive and speak to people about how you feel.”

NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador James Scott

This wasn’t a struggle as the industry is full of people who will teach and accept anyone with open arms and give you guidance and assistance wherever you need it.

After spending some time ‘learning on the job’ the time had come to transfer these skills onto my own farm – and what a rollercoaster it has been, the best decision of my life.

Every day brings new challenges and new lessons and tests both your mental and physical strength.

Mental health is such an important topic within farming. At times it can be lonely, and you can sometimes feel as though you are not doing things properly, just like everyone else you have good and bad days. But it is important to remain positive and speak to people about how you feel.

Starting this venture has presented many challenges for me. One of the main challenges would be not having as much free time. This was something I was aware of when starting the dairy farm, but it can still get you down if you miss out on events or are often working when friends are out.

One of the most important things I did to deal with this was making sure I made the most of my evenings by playing sports with my friends and not saying no to socialising with family and friends and seeing them at any free opportunity.

My local young farmers’ club has been one of these outlets for me. I have made so many great friendships and found it is a great way to let off some steam with like-minded people who share those same struggles that you do. That is why it is so important to make sure you speak out!

As well as young farmers, there are many other programmes that can offer you support and help with mental health which you can find on the NFU website. Social media can also be a a great place to get support.

I use social media to make YouTube, TikTok and Instagram videos showing what I get up to on the farm, including both the ups and downs that I face.

When I get a comment showing love and support it reminds me why I am doing this and that there are people out there that do support and appreciate British agriculture.

Debt advice

If your mental health has been affected by financial issues, please access PayPlan - our free debt advice service. 

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