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A new survey has revealed that support for Britain’s farmers has reached a record high due to efforts to keep the nation fed throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
OnePoll’s Farmer Favourability Survey found that 75% of people voiced a positive view of UK farming, which is the highest figure since the annual survey was first carried out in 2012. The figure also marks a six percentage point increase in public favourability since June 2019, with a majority of respondents citing the importance of farmers’ work during the lockdown as a reason for their positive view.
According to the survey, 89% of the public feels farming is important to the UK economy, while 88% feel it is important that Britain has a productive farming industry – the highest figure for three years. The importance of food security was also highlighted by the public, with 86% agreeing that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide national food security.
NFU President Minette Batters welcomed the news, saying it was “fantastic” that the British public had “recognised the efforts of growers and producers across the country in keeping us fed”, especially at a pivotal moment for the industry with Brexit on the horizon. The Government’s handling of trade deals has been scrutinised due to fears over food safety standards, and the British agricultural industry has fought hard to secure necessary amendments to the Agricultural Bill.
“With the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and the potential for a no-deal Brexit looming large, I, along with my fellow farmers, remain extremely thankful for this huge show of public support and the increasing value they place on quality British food. These figures demonstrate growing public thinking; understanding and supporting our food supply chain has never been more important.”
OnePoll’s survey found that 77% of the public agreed that farmers should continue to receive financial support post-Brexit, a four percentage point increase since 2019, and a nine percentage point increase since 2017.
This growing support is already being put into action: more than one million people have signed the NFU’s petition urging the government to ensure future trade deals do not lead to an increase in food imports that would be illegal to produce in the UK. Another 80,000 people have written to their MP asking them to support the introduction of a Trade and Agriculture Commission to oversee future trade deals.
“This has sent a strong signal to Westminster on how highly British people value quality, sustainably produced British food, which has been recognised by ministers in the recent announcement that they will be setting up the Commission. This is an important development in our campaign to ensure UK farming’s high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection are not undermined in future trade deals and it remains vital that this independent commission is able to advise and be accountable to Parliament,” says Minette.
“As farmers we must continue to show the public how much the UK farming sector delivers for the nation, the economy and the environment. Their support is going to be invaluable in the months and years ahead.”