UK: Public ‘unaware’ of farming crisis - survey

UK consumers are sympathetic to farmers but unaware that many have been hit by crises in recent time

UK consumers are sympathetic to farmers but unaware that many have been hit by crises in recent times, according to a survey - Credit: PA

Consumers are overwhelmingly supportive of farmers, yet know little about the crisis they suffered during a bout of severe weather at the start of this year, a survey has found.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund trustee Lord Curry of Kirkharle warned of “a silent crisis” after a YouGov poll found less than a quarter of the public would describe the farming industry as in dire straits.

“One in four farming households are living in poverty. Livestock farmers are struggling with reduced herds that will have a knock-on effect for several seasons. Arable farmers are looking at a 30% reduction in crop yields.” he said.

“The number of farmers quitting the profession is on the rise.

“Thirty dairy farmers quit the industry in the month of April alone.

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“Summer might be in full flourish, but we need to remind people that farmers will be counting the costs of a brutal start to the year for some years to come.”

The YouGov poll also showed that the majority of the British public think a UK hill farmer earns more than they do, with 59% of the respondents thinking they earn more than double the average annual wage. However, a recent report by Rose Regeneration and Oxfam cites that average annual salary for a hill farmer in County Durham is £12,600 with some earning much less, just £8,000 per year - considerably less than the UK minimum wage based on a full time salary.

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Only 1% of those surveyed correctly stated that the average age of a farmer was 58, with the average age from respondent estimates being 13 years younger at 45. However, 88% of the British public thinking it’s important to maintain and protect rural areas in Britain, and the majority of those currently living in London confirming that they would rather spend their time in the countryside and value the farmers who work to maintain it. 81% think it’s important to buy British produce when possible as a way of showing support for the British farming industry.

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