Two-thirds of farmers in England and Wales believe that they are not respected by their local community and 80% feel unappreciated and poorly understood by local authorities, according to a Farmers’ Voice survey by ADAS.
When questioned, 75% of those responding blamed the media for undermining their standing in the local community.
Guy Smith, Essex farmer and NFU Council communications spokesman, said: “It’s a conundrum and one the NFU grapples with regularly.
The challenge we face is convincing the public that farming is a dynamic industry, capable of delivering desirable public goods such as wholesome food with a high regard to animal welfare and the environment.”
James Standen, from ADAS, said the situation has been growing steadily worse since the survey began seven years ago. “It seems that crises such as foot-and-mouth and BSE have had a longer term impact, driving a divide between farmers and the rest of the community.”
However, many respondents felt that it should not be left to others to improve their image.
“It is worth noting that farmers are not simply laying all the blame for the poor relations at the feet of residents and authorities. Our findings also showed that the vast majority feel that the farming community should do more to actively promote their own interests,” said Mr Standen.
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