RELEASE 22 NOVEMBER 2002
EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 HOURS
ON SUNDAY 24 NOVEMBER 2002
IT'S OFFICIAL: THE BRITISH PUBLIC VALUES
AND IS WILLING TO SUPPORT IT
"Now it's the Government's turn",
says the CLA
The British public cares about the UK farming industry and
positive contribution farmers make to the management of the
Vice President David Fursdon said at the Royal Smithfield
Show today. But
farmers struggling to survive through the worst
agricultural crisis since
the 1930s are becoming less able to deliver not
only their primary outputs -
food - but the environmental benefits that
people want and expect.
Announcing the results of independent research
conducted by ICM on behalf of
the CLA, David Fursdon said:
severe difficulties afflicting British agriculture are a problem not
our farmers, farmworkers and their families, important though that
They also constitute a serious problem for Government, the national
the environment, for our #60 billion food industry and for the
economy of our
"To kickstart a recovery in farming is a massive challenge,
and would be all
the more difficult without broad public support. We
wanted to find out if
that support exists, and the answer we got back is an
"Our survey of the British public reveals that:
92% of the British public see farming as an important part of our
life and economy;
* 87% consider that farmers play an important role in
attractive and well-managed countryside;
* 91% believe it is
important to support our farming industry by
buying locally-produced food
when it is available.
* 88% believe it is worth paying a bit more for quality
food with high welfare and environmental standards.
"A majority (61%) were also in favour of a switch in EU agricultural
from production subsidies to payments for environmental benefits and
development. So the proposed new basis for funding the Common
Policy has substantial support too.
"This all adds up to
a strong vote of confidence in Britain's farmers and
industry. And they need all the encouragement they can get.
the results of another independent research exercise - to discover
farming members are coping with the current crisis and how they are
for the future - make less optimistic reading.
"Our survey of CLA
farming members reveals that:
* In this past farming year:
* only 14%
- one in seven - made a profit sufficient to allow for
57% made insufficient profit to cover depreciation and reinvestment
maintain their standard of living;
* 29% made an absolute loss.
Looking to the future, and based on conditions staying the same:
* only 2.6%
intend to increase output, 14% intend to reduce it by a
range from 5-100%,
and the remaining 83.4% intend to continue with roughly
the same level of
output, but with reduced labour;
* 14% said they plan to take poorer land out
of production and 8% said
they would close one or more farm enterprises,
* while 50% plan to maintain their current
levels of environmental
land management work (eg hedging, ditching, farm
woodland management) and 3%
plan to do more of this work, no fewer than 47%
say they will have to reduce
it or give it up altogether.
indeed a grim prospect: reduced output leading to greater reliance
imports; reduced employment, dealing a blow to rural communities;
reduced resources devoted to maintaining a green and pleasant landscape
all to enjoy, from country dwellers, to urban escapees, to the millions
tourists who visit the UK every year.
"We have reached a defining
moment. The industry knows it has to change and
adapt. With the
Fischler CAP proposals and Defra's Sustainable Food and
shortly to be announced, the Government must seize the
opportunity to fight
for British interests and secure a viable future for
CAP reform is essential, and must be achieved in such a
way that the
transition is as painless as possible and our farmers'
within Europe is not further eroded.
"The Government should do
this because it will benefit the economy and the
thousands of rural communities depend on it for their
survival, and because
the British public has made it clear that it matters
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) Survey of the British public
Research interviewed a random selection of 1,001 adults aged
telephone between 13-14 November 2002. Interviews were conducted
the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all
2) Survey of CLA farming members
The National Farm Research Unit
interviewed a random selection of 114
CLA-member farmers, large and small, by
telephone in the period leading up
to 7 November 2002.
represented the following mix of farm types: arable 37%, mixed
17%, beef and sheep 13%, upland 6%, dairy 3%.
The total recorded
acreage of the sample was 81,919, or an average farm size
of some 718
acres. Whilst this is larger than the reported national
figures relate to the registered farmer of the holding for
payments. In recent times, this has become divorced from the
the ground who is actually responsible for the land management.
figure is based on acres under control of the farm business.
Fursdon was speaking at a joint NFU-CLA press briefing at the
Smithfield Show, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London on Sunday 24
For further press information, contact Elspeth Henderson, CLA
Head of Media
on tel: 020 7460 7932, mobile 07803 017174, email: email@example.com.