Public sentiment for the region’s farmers, the subsidies they receive and the effects their methods have on the countryside has significantly increased, according to the findings of a new survey.
Conducted before Thursday’s referendum over Britain’s future membership of the European Union, the results show that the number of people in Yorkshire who backing British farming has increased for the fifth year running.
The majority of respondents actively support farming. Seventy-one per cent said they have a favourable or very favourable view of British farmers - eight per cent more than in 2012.
Ninety-three per cent of people think farming is important to the economy and 94 per cent think it is important to see a productive farming industry, according to the survey carried out by OnePoll for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
A large majority, some 82 per cent, think farmers have a very or fairly beneficial effect on the countryside - the highest figure in response to this question since it was first asked in 2013.
Another 65 per cent agreed that farmers should continue to receive this farm support payments - up by seven per cent since 2012.
The NFU’s president Meurig Raymond said the survey results underline how valuable the farming sector is.
“Public support is extremely important to the British farming industry - a message which won’t go unnoticed to politicians and retailers,” Mr Raymond said.
“To see the figures on public support for our sector increase year after year reassures me that there is a bright future for farmers in this country.
“The survey results show that the public does understand the importance of farming to the economy as the bedrock of this sector; the food and farming industry is the biggest manufacturing sector and the fact that people are noticing how vital this is a massive asset to us, as farmers. And the recent farming crisis has demonstrated the importance of financial support to farming; clearly this has been understood by public.”
Mr Raymond, who farms a mixed enterprise in Pembrokeshire, said: “The farmer favourability statistics are a testament to the industry; we saw over a quarter of a million people visit farms across the country as farmers threw open their farm gates to talk to the public about what they do as part of Open Farm Sunday. Without this event and the positive attitude from farmers, many thousands of people may not be active supporters of our sector.
“Naturally, the public are interested in what they eat. At the NFU we ensure the farm to fork message is heard loud and clear by people from all walks of life; urban, rural, younger, older. And this public awareness of farming’s value to both the countryside and the economy adds strings to our bow when lobbying in Westminster and Brussels.
“On top of the OnePoll statistics, we have over 26,000 registered ‘Back British Farming’ campaign supporters. This proves to be a fantastic base of people primed to learn about how they can further their support for our sector.”
QUARTER OF A MILLION FARM VISITORS
The organisers of Open Farm Sunday claimed that public engagement with farming is at an all-time high, following its annual event on June 5.
LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) estimates that more than 250,000 people flocked to a local participating farm to discover the world of farming for the annual date.
Nearly 400 farms took part and Annabel Shackleton, manager of Open Farm Sunday, said: “It is thanks to this fantastic collaboration that Open Farm Sunday continues to be recognised as the industry’s flagship event.”