It is great to hear that there has been a significant shift in the public’s view of farming, with nearly 90% of people believing the agri-food sector is either extremely important or very important to the economy. Some 15 years ago the figure was just 65%. Almost 90% of people in Ireland believe that the contribution of farming to the Irish countryside and rural environment is beneficial or very beneficial, compared to 58% 15 years ago. These are just two of views that came from a nationally represented survey conducted on behalf of Agri Aware. Below are some interesting results from the survey released in late 2012 and comparisons are drawn from a similar survey conducted in 1997.
What the Public had to Say:
• 88% of people surveyed think that the agriculture and food sector is extremely/very important to the Irish economy – that’s up from 65% of people in 1997.
• 58% of people surveyed in 1997 said that farming was beneficial or very beneficial for the countryside and this figure has now soared to 88%.
• 75% say Irish farmers treat their livestock very well/well, compared to 56% in 1997.
• 57% of people think Irish school children have a reasonable or good understanding of agriculture and farming – up from 43% in 1997.
• Half of people surveyed say spending time on a farm is the best way to learn about farmers and farming – up from 30% in 1997.
• 91% of people surveyed either always or sometimes make an effort to buy Irish food.
• 89% of Irish consumers said that they always or sometimes check the origin of food that they buy-age appears to be the key here, as over half of those aged 55+ years always check origin of food, while 21% of 15-24 year olds would never check food origin
• 3/4 cite supporting jobs in the Irish economy/keeping money in Ireland as a reason for buying Irish. Almost a fifth said they do so because the quality is better than imported food.
• 75% agreed that the high levels of rainfall this summer created more work for farmers and will reduce farm income.
• Only 55% think that food produced from animals fed on grass has health benefits over and above food produced from animals fed with grain.
• 91% of people surveyed agreed that the Irish countryside is important in attracting tourists to Ireland.
• More than half think a career in farming or the agri-food industry is a good career option for a young person today. The reasons for this are: employment opportunities (33%), the sector being the key to economic recovery and the economy (20%), a good lifestyle (18%) and it being a sustainable industry as people will always need to eat (11%).
• Almost 80% of people surveyed were unaware of any government/industry plans to progress the agri-food sector.
The farming industry looks positive in the public’s eye and it does show many prospects that should be embraced by all of us. FRS are progressively planning to help farmers to reach their full potential and to provide the people you need when you need them.
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