UK activists have resumed their attack on the dairy industry.
A OnePoll survey of 2000 people from England and Wales had 68% of respondents expressing a positive view of farmers, up from 60% in 2012.
The survey also reveals that at least 90% of people said they thought agriculture was important to the UK economy, up from 83% in 2012. And on looking after the countryside, 75% of people said they believed farmers had a beneficial or very beneficial effect, up from 72%.
NFU president Meurig Raymond believes the growing positive trend was due in part to farmers and growers being more open and championing what they do.
“I am seeing more and more how farmers are speaking directly to the public,” he says. “Whether that’s capitalising on social media to share with them compelling reasons to back British farming and buy British food, or the recent successes seen during Open Farm Sunday last weekend where farmers threw open their farm gates to speak directly to the public about what they do.
“At the NFU we have used our Back British Farming campaign to focus on farming’s contribution to the economy and to the countryside; as expert food producers we have capitalised the public’s desire to know more about where their food comes from.”
He says the massive growth trend in NFU’s social media channels also goes hand-in-hand with farming’s growing public support.
NFU’s Twitter channel has gone from 4600 in 2012 to around 31,000 today. And views on YouTube have gone from hundreds four years ago to reaching hundreds of thousands of interested people today.
“In the run up to the general election our website also received more than 15,000 pledges from people casting their vote for British food,” he says. “All of this is great news for a sector that has had its fair share of challenges in recent times.
“We’ve seen in recent weeks very visible public support for farming and farmers in public and in the media and I would like to thank them for that. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue using all the tools we have to tell our story and state the case for British food and farming.
This survey is a clear indicator of public support. Now, when farm gate prices are low, retailers and government must also continue showing their support and visibly back British farming.”