2,000 members of the public from across England and Wales have taken part in the annual Farmer Favourability Survey by OnePoll, commissioned by the NFU, the results of which demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst the population for UK food standards to be upheld in trade negotiations.
Of those surveyed, 85% said they wanted future trade deals to protect UK farmers from being undercut by cheaper, sub-standard imports. Other findings included:
- 75% saying they trusted British food more than food imported from the rest of the world,
- 84% supported clearer labelling of British food,
- 73% said that they often or always look specifically for British food when shopping. Reportedly, this is highest figure seen to date since the survey started in 2012,
- 44% of Londoners reported a more favourable view than twelve months ago,
- Similarily to 2020, 88% of the public felt that it is important that Britain has a productive farming industry.
As the Government continues to strike trade deals around the world and develop its domestic food policy, the results clearly show that the British public wants to see our climate-friendly, high-welfare farming championed. 84% of respondents felt that trade deals should ensure environmental farming standards for imports are the same as the UK’s, while 86% felt that it is important that animal welfare standards also match our own.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s fantastic to see record-high support for British food and farming maintained over the course of what has been a challenging year for everyone and to see our environmental and welfare credentials recognised alongside an appreciation for quality food.
“As the government develops its new agriculture and trade policies, as well as its first-ever UK food strategy, this is a clear message from the British public that they value and trust British food.
“They have demonstrated time and time again that animal welfare and sustainability are not things they are going to overlook, whether it’s food produced here or overseas, and it’s important that these values are at the forefront and embedded in every policy decision.
“The survey results are clear – no one wants to see UK farmers being put out of business by food imports that fail to meet our own high animal welfare and environmental standards. Yet this remains a real risk, especially if future trade deals with the likes of New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the USA – all major exporters – allow tariff-free access to our markets. It’s hard to not think the Australian deal has set a precedent but multiple deals in the same vein will have serious and lasting impacts on Britain’s ability to produce its own food.
“We recognise the huge role trade plays in determining the future of food production in this country, and the importance of a trade and domestic farm policy that works hand in hand. This means that while many will be looking for quick-fix solutions to the climate crisis, as well as a growing health crisis, we must avoid pursuing a trade policy that would exacerbate the global situation by simply incentivising lower standard production abroad. Instead, we should promote the UK’s leading role in high-welfare, climate-friendly farming and support our farmers in selling more great British food abroad.”