Almost 60% of the general public think the main responsibility of farmers in Irish society is to “provide safe, healthy food of high quality”, a new EU survey has found.

The data – compiled as part of the EU’s Special Eurobarometer – also found that nearly 30% of Irish citizens think the chief responsibility of Irish farmers is to “ensure the welfare of farmed animals“.

Meanwhile, 15% said the duty of farming should be to “encourage and improve life in the countryside”.

The survey – commissioned by the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development – explores public opinion on agriculture, rural areas and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in each of the 28 member states.

Although completed just last month, the fieldwork for the survey commenced in early December 2017 – shortly after the publication of the European Commission’s draft CAP communication on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’.

The survey was carried out through face-to-face interviews with a sample group of 1,000 citizens, from different social and demographic backgrounds, in each individual member state.

The interviews were carried out at the home of each respondent and communicated through his/her native language on behalf of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.

One of the 12 questions asked in the survey, conducted by institutes within the TNS Opinion and Social network, was: ‘What do you think should be the two main responsibilities of farmers in our society?’

In addition to the above findings, the results for Ireland – which were obtained by AgriLand – reveal that other widely held views are that 23% of the general public believes the main obligation of Irish farmers is to “protect the environment and tackle climate change”.

However, 23% also ticked “creating growth in rural areas” and 16% ticked “supplying the population with a diversity of quality products”.

Other opinions collected in the Special Eurobarometer include:
  • Opinions about the importance of agriculture and rural areas and how things have changed over the last decade;
  • Awareness of the CAP;
  • Financial support for farmers now and in the future – including justifications for the CAP’s budget;
  • Views on who benefits most from CAP.

Overall EU results

After compiling the data from all the member states, it was found that the majority of EU citizens – 28,031 contributed to the survey – share views similar to the Irish.

Overall, 55% of EU citizens say “providing safe, healthy food of high quality” is the main responsibility of farmers.

Respondents in Cyprus (67%), Sweden (65%), the Netherlands and Slovenia (both 64%) are most likely to say this; compared to 42% in Slovakia and Romania and 43% in Croatia.

More than a quarter mentioned ensuring the welfare of farmed animals; while, 25% say protecting the environment and tackling climate change.

Stay tuned for more interesting results from the the Special Eurobarometer report…