Coronavirus: Public support for British farmers increases

People believe Britain’s ability to produce its own food is increasingly important, suggests a survey carried out during the coronavirus pandemic.

The public also have a more favourable view of farming – perhaps encouraged by the efforts of growers and livestock producers to feed the nation during the crisis.

See also: Government issues coronavirus advice for farms

Asked whether their view of British farming had changed in the past three months, 28% of respondents said it was more favourable, while 11% said less favourable.

And 51% said they felt Britain’s ability to produce its own food had become more important.

The independent survey of 2,036 UK adults was carried out by pollsters Censuswide on behalf of the NFU on 20-21 April 2020.

NFU director general Terry Jones said the findings showed people were “on our side” through what is a difficult time for the industry and the country as a whole.

Survey findings



‘Very different’

Drawing a comparison with the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, Mr Jones said the effect of the coronavirus pandemic is very different to previous crises suffered by the farming sector.

“Foot-and-mouth was a farming crisis with a national impact,” he told journalists during an online media briefing on Monday (27 April). “This is a national crisis with a farming impact.”

Coronavirus has seen the government designate agriculture an essential industry, with farmers and food chain staff deemed to be key workers.

The importance of food and farming was further highlighted earlier in the pandemic as panic-buying shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of essential items.

Panic buying

Earlier, Defra secretary George Eustice said panic buying had now ceased and 500,000 food parcels had been delivered by volunteers to people unable to leave their homes due to a clinical condition.

“In addition, the major supermarkets have agreed to prioritise delivery slots for those in this shielded group,” said Mr Eustice on Sunday (26 April).

“So far, over 300,000 such deliveries have been made, enabling people to shop normally and choose the goods that they want to buy.”

Many supermarkets have taken steps to increase delivery slots for online shopping.

The number of supermarket delivery slots had increased from 2.1m to 2.6m since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, said Mr Eustice. It was expected to grow further to 2.9m delivery slots over the next couple of weeks.

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