Almost 40% of Europeans believe that financial support for farmers from the European Union is “too low” and 56% want to see payments increase over the next decade, according to a new survey.

During February and March this year, Eurobarometer was commissioned by the European Commission to seek the views of over 26,500 people in 27 EU member states.

The survey, which included interviews with just over 1,000 people in Ireland, focuses on public opinion on agriculture and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Overall, 60% of survey respondents felt that agriculture and rural areas are ‘very important’ to the future of the EU. Almost three quarters of Irish respondents ranked both as ‘very important’.

Half of people, both overall and among the Irish interviewees, ranked providing safe, healthy and sustainable food of high quality among the top two responsibilities of farmers.

Around 30% said farmers have a responsibility to ensure the welfare of farmed animals.

Respondents ranked farmers’ responsibility to secure a stable food supply in the EU (26% overall and 35% among Irish respondents) at all times above protecting the environment and tackling climate change (24% overall and 20% in Ireland).

A majority of Europeans believe that the level of food security has stayed the same or increased in the past decade. 54% feel that climate change and extreme weather events are the biggest risks to food security.

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However, almost 70% (67% overall and 68% in Ireland) believe that EU farmers need to change the way they work in order to fight climate change, even if that means EU agriculture will be less competitive.

Around 60% of respondents said that they would be willing to pay 10% more for agricultural products that are produced in a way that limits their carbon footprint.

A similar amount of people believe that agriculture has already made a major contribution in tackling climate change.

Around 40% of respondents agreed that agriculture is one of the major causes of climate change.

Image Source: Eurobarometer

Seven in ten respondents were aware of the supports provided by the EU to farmers through CAP. However, 61% said they “didn’t really know the details”.

In Ireland, almost 75% of respondents were aware of CAP, with 55% unclear of the finer points. 26% had never heard of CAP.

Over three quarters of respondents agreed that CAP benefits all EU citizens and not just farmers.

Nearly half of the Europeans surveyed thought that securing a stable supply of food in the EU at all times should be a main objective of CAP.

55% felt that the CAP should also contribute to ensuring reasonable food prices for consumers.

39% of respondents believe that the EU financial support given to farmers is “too low”, 9% said it was “too high” with 46% feeling it was “about right”.

56% would like to see an increase in EU funding given to farmers over the next decade, 28% want it to remain unchanged, while 11% want a decrease in payments.

Over nine in ten Europeans are in favour of the EU continuing to subsidise farmers for carrying out agricultural practices which are beneficial to the climate and environment.

When it came to agricultural imports, 87% said items should only enter the EU if production has complied with the EU’s environmental and animal welfare standards.

Over 60% felt that trade deals between the EU and other countries has been positive both for them as consumers and for EU agriculture.

87% said that food products being part of a short supply chain is an important factor in their decision to buy.