29 November 2000
Farmers’ children leaving the land – survey

By FWi staff

FEWER than one in five farmers expect their grandchildren to follow them into farming, according to a survey carried out at the Royal Smithfield Show.

The poll, by consultants Laurence Gould, found that significant numbers of producers see little future in the industry for following generations.

Almost 80% of 186 farmers who filled in questionnaires said they no longer believed the adage that “farmers always do better under a Labour government”.

Just 16% of 186 respondents believe their grandchildren will be farmers.

Although the survey is unlikely to be statistically robust, it provides a revealing snapshot of farmers attitudes at the first Smithfield Show of the new millennium.

Almost two out of three respondents said subsidies should not be redirected from food production payments into environmental and diversification schemes.

Farmers said they would prefer to receive subsidies directly rather than take advantage of schemes that may not provide medium- to long-term benefits.

An overwhelming 78% of respondents said they wanted to see more radical approach adopted by farmers to political lobbying.

Weaker Sterling would have the greatest influence on future farm profitability, but only 26% of farmers think the time is right to join the Euro.

Looking to the future, 55% of farmers thought they would not be growing genetically modified crops within the next five years.

One-third of farmers are already ordering inputs or farm services over the Internet, and a further 20% of producers expect to do so within a year.