Strong public support for nature-friendly farming, our new polling shows

United Kingdom
Policy & Views

As the political parties meet for their annual conferences, the NFFN and Sustain have commissioned polling showing the public backs a nature-friendly approach to farming that works for both farm businesses and nature.

To coincide with the political party conference season, the NFFN and Sustain commissioned research into people’s views on how the government should be supporting and funding farming.

The results show clear support for a nature-friendly approach to agriculture, with the majority backing more money to help farms work in harmony with nature and agreement that the way we farm in the UK needs to change due to the threat posed by climate change.

We hope the results will show politicians that they should not fear a backlash from the electorate by committing full support to nature-friendly farming when drawing up their general election manifestos.

These results demonstrate a clear public appetite for a farming transition which addresses many of the environmental challenges we face today. Crucially it demonstrates that people view funding for nature-friendly farming as an important investment, even during a cost of living crisis. Now we need to see a clear vision and the political will to make a widespread transition to nature-friendly farming and food production a reality.

Martin Lines, CEO, NFFN

The polling found that almost three in five UK adults (59%) agree that the next UK Government should increase the amount of financial support given to nature-friendly farming, with just 7% disagreeing.

In addition, just over half (55%) agree the government needs to take action to change how farming is done because of climate change, with just over one in 10 (11%) disagreeing. Agriculture is currently the country’s fifth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, 58% of UK adults agree that given some agricultural practices currently contribute to river pollution, tackling this should be a priority for the next government, with 12% disagreeing.

The polling found that across the UK, the highest level of support for nature-friendly farming receiving more money from the next government was in Wales and North East England, where 64% of people agreed with the statement.

The highest level of support for changing the way we farm to respond to climate change was in Northern Ireland, with a massive 71% of people there agreeing.

Tackling river pollution was most popular in Yorkshire and the Humber, where 65% of adults agree it should be a priority, with 63% of people agreeing it should be a priority in both Wales and the South East of England.

Food prices are rocketing but farmers still only receive less than 1p of the profit. Our farmers are treated unfairly by supermarkets and processors while simultaneously facing rising input costs.

We can see the damage our food system is doing to our rivers and land; farmers need a fair deal from the markets and more support from the government so they can farm in a nature-friendly way. This poll shows that that is what the public want.

Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming, Sustain

This year’s conferences are a key opportunity for parties to shape their intended policies on areas including farming, the environment and rural affairs ahead of the 2024 UK general election.