Country matters – public perceptions of farming01/07/19
The public’s perception of farming has changed over the years. Certainly in the last 10 years, surveys carried out by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have shown that public opinion has become increasingly positive towards agricultural matters. There has always been something of a divide between city and country – and where you live would massively influence your perception of farming. Country residents tend to be more aware and receptive to farming issues and how they impact the country as a whole. But there has been a global trend that has seen environmental issues become more commonplace and open in discussions, and everyone is becoming more aware that the role of our countryside and its guardians is crucial to the wider health of our planet.
Backing British farming
‘Back British Farming’, the NFU’s public-facing campaign, has been partly credited with this raising of awareness in highlighting the importance of farming and farmers in maintaining the rural environment and the overall positive impact farming has on the countryside. Farming itself has always been a vital part of the UK’s economy – now, in these uncertain times, more than ever. Is now the time for us to start growing even more of our own produce and maintain larger animal stocks? And will diets reflect the availability of more ‘seasonal’ ingredients, with supply, demand and imports bound to be affected by whatever outcome ‘Brexit’ brings.
Alternatives to agriculture
Rural areas have seen a rise in small industrial units, which have proved to be a vital component in the rural economy – these can be offices, retail or small manufacturers. This has led to many formerly derelict buildings or outbuildings being renovated and repurposed for office or industry. There have been many opportunities for the redevelopment of rural areas as a result of the money generated from this and multiple opportunities for developers to engage with farmers on these matters.
Patchy broadband speeds
Land and rural property are expensive commodities and investments, and need to be used to their best advantage. But in some instances, rural communities are increasingly isolated from technology. Access to broadband and Wi-Fi is patchy at best in some areas and non-existent in the worst cases. These technologies are as vital as electricity for the successful running of businesses (or working from home) and the government must ensure that rural infrastructure is in place, to allow it to remain competitive with urban areas. On the other hand, one area of technology where the countryside is a leader is in the use of land for sustainable power generation, using such equipment as wind farms or solar power.
Living the dream
Farmers are now encouraged to diversify across sectors outside the conventional parameters of farming and agriculture. These include leisure and tourism aspects of the sector. This has led to a rise in farms opening their gates to the public for open days or ‘living farm’ experiences – where families, especially children, can meet farmers and their animals face-to-face. There is also the opportunity to convert farm buildings into residential or holiday lets. Land can be used for camping and glamping, and other outdoor activities, such as off-road driving, clay shooting or fishing. All these developments have led to changes in the ways the public perceives the countryside, farmers and farming.
If you’d like to talk to our land and property experts at Forge Property Consultants about how you can make their most of your rural resources, then contact us today.
Charles Lawson, Director