A University of New England researcher says farm finances are the leading cause of stress for farmers but the coal seam gas industry is also a cause of concern to farmers.
PhD student Methuen Morgan received more than 400 responses to a in-depth survey in which he sought to explore the expectations farmers had of the coal seam gas industry.
"We looked at farmer behaviours with respect to CSG industry, their expectations, their stress in regards to it, and their mental health and general well being", said Mr Morgan.
The survey respondents comprised mainly of farmers from NSW and Qld. Some of those were impacted by CSG, others were not.
Mr Morgan says, surprisingly, the initial analysis of results revealed that coal seam gas wasn't causing a great deal of stress in the overall results.
"We found that coal seam gas was a unique 'stresser'. It wasn't very large but it did contribute to the stress of farmers. It didn't impact on depression or anxiety but it was impacting on reported stress levels.
"There were five different stress profiles within our group, so we had one group that were unstressed by anything. We had another group that were very stressed by everything, then in the middle we had some really interesting groups. In particular we had two groups that shared similar levels, but the main difference was coal seam gas. CSG is what made them into two distinct groups.
Mr Morgan says the responses were received last year and the situation may have changed since.
"Like all stress constructs, I suspect it depends on when you ask the questions. We were also very keen to make sure we got farmers from in and outside the areas, so we may be seeing the guys who don't have coal seam gas leases 'washing out' the stress levels that are reported in those farmers who do have CSG leases.
"The next step of our project is to have a look at that."
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