More than eight out of 10 people think the government should spend money on preserving and managing the countryside post Brexit, with food production being their top priority.
A new survey by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to be launched on Thursday (3 August) Countryfile Live event at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire shows strong backing for continued taxpayer support for farming and countryside management.
The poll, conducted by YouGov and taking in the views of more than 1,600 members of the public, also revealed 61% believe current spending of about £3bn/year is either the “right amount” (40%) or “too little” (21%).
Some 42% of people surveyed thought food production should be one of the top priorities for government investment in the countryside, with flood management, enhancing wildlife and planting trees coming close behind (see graphic, below).
CLA president Ross Murray described the findings as “a ringing endorsement” of how important investing in the countryside is.
“Managing the landscape, producing quality food and planting trees bring benefits to every person who lives in, works in or enjoys visiting our countryside,” he said.
“But these benefits require investment and we have a unique opportunity, post Brexit, to ensure farmers and landowners are better recognised for undertaking this vital work.”
The CLA recently launched its Land Management Contract concept as a way of ensuring farmers and landowners receive payment for delivering specific public goods, such as flood protection, habitat improvement and public access.
The organisation is also running a Countryside Matters campaign, to help promote the importance of investing in the countryside.
Members of the public are encouraged to sign up to the campaign , and also to back the campaign using the Twitter handle @clatweets and the hashtag #thecountrysidematters.