tractor in field

Public support for British food and farming has reached a record high as a result of farmers’ efforts to keep the nation fed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

The Farmer Favourability Survey, carried out by OnePoll for the NFU, indicates that 75 per cent of people voiced a positive view of UK farming, the highest figure since the pollsters started carrying out the annual survey in 2012.

It also marks a six percentage point increase in public favourability since June 2019, which comes on top of a further five point rise between June 2018-2019.

There are also fewer people claiming to have no opinion on farming, dropping from 25 to 21 per cent over the past year. When the survey started in 2012, this figure was at 33 per cent.

The majority of respondents cited the importance of British farming’s work throughout lockdown as a reason for their increased positive view.

Other findings from the Farmer Favourability Survey include:

- 86 per cent agreed that British farms should grow as much food as they can to provide national food security;

- 88 per cent of the public that feel it is important that Britain has a productive farming industry – the highest figure for three years;

- 89 per cent of the public feel farming is fairly or very important to the UK economy – a four point increase since 2019;

- 77 per cent of respondents agreed that farmers should continue to receive financial support post Brexit – a four point increase since 2019 and a nine point increase since 2017.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “Like the rest of the nation, our farmers have had a challenging year and it’s fantastic to see that the British public has recognised the efforts of growers and producers cross the country in keeping us fed.

“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.

“The amount of people putting their support into action over the past few months has also been incredible, with more than one million people signing 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 here. Alongside this, nearly 80,000 people wrote 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 animportant 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 itremains vital that this independent commission is able to advise and be accountable to Parliament.

“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.”