Study shows consensus between farmers and conservationists

24 June 2019

A major survey of farmers’ attitudes to changes in the Government’s agricultural policy, shows that English farmers recognise the need for the environment and animal welfare to be prioritised in future Government policy, and acknowledge the key link between a thriving natural world and successful farming. The in-depth research from Wildlife and Countryside Link showed 80% of farmers believe the health of the natural environment is important or very important for their farm business.

Pollution prevention is rated by most farmers as deserving Government funding in future farming policy, with more than half of farmers (56.2%) believing that activities which prevent pollution should be supported. Animal welfare (50.4%), habitat restoration (41%) and biodiversity conservation (38.2%) all ranked more highly than food productivity and competitiveness, which 38% said should be prioritised. Soil conservation and protection of crop, tree, plant and bee health were ranked closely behind at 37.2% and 35.0% respectively.

Ewe and Lamb in Northumberland National Park

Ewe and lamb in Northumberland National Park. Photo credit: Northumberland National Park Authority

Further key findings from the independent research with 500 farmers, carried out on behalf of environment and animal welfare charities, reveal that:

  • Two thirds of farmers say regulation is important or very important to protect standards in the farming industry.
  • 50% of farmers agree with the principle of ‘public money for public goods’ (one third are neutral, and one in five disagree with the principle). Younger farmers are the most supportive with 56% in favour and only 15% against public money for public goods.

A third of farmers are currently taking no environmental action to deal with problems on their farms, 44% are undertaking one or two environmental activities, one in five are undertaking three or more.

Farmers cite lack of access to capital and uncertainty caused by Brexit as by far the biggest barriers to making environmental and other improvements to their farm business (41% of farmers experienced lack of funds access and 41% are struggling to make changes due to Brexit)

Campaign for National Parks is proud to support this work as a member of Wildlife and Countryside Link. The future of the Agricultural Bill is vitally important to the very future of the National Parks. Agriculture is the predominate industry across the family of Parks and has had a massive impact on the beauty, quality and diversity of the landscapes. 

Campaign for National Parks is the only independent national charity dedicated to all the National Parks of England and Wales. We believe the Agriculture Bill (currently awaiting its next stage in Parliament) must have public goods, including landscape as well as cleaner water, cleaner air and other environmental benefits, front and centre. 

Click here to read more of Wildlife and Countryside Link's findings