2 June 2000
European farmers feel unwanted too

by FWi staff

DECLINING public appreciation of the role farmers play in society is felt as strongly by producers in France and Germany as it is in Britain.

New research reveals that farmers biggest concerns are the loss of influence they have over their livelihoods and their fall in social standing.

The study was commissioned by the European Unions young farmers body CEJA and the Switzerland-based crop protection company Novartis.

The demise is put down to the drop in the number of farmers, negative media coverage of farming practices and the influence of public opinion in politics.

This had led to extra legislation, putting many European farmers at a competitive disadvantage on the world market.

In France, this took the form of an environmental tax, while young farmers in Germany complained of the extra legislation controlling their production methods.

But attempts to boost standards failed to raise crop values by any great level.

In the UK, for example, where crop assurance is now the norm, there is thought to be little financial gain.

Producers in all three countries believe that the farming unions need to do more to improve relations with the media.

The study, carried out by the Produce Studies Group, also looked at the future role of the internet.

Many young farmers are linked to the internet and use it as a source of advice, said CEJA president, Arnold Puech dAlissac. But few look to the internet to do business.