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NFU members in favour of staying in the EU, surveys show

NFU members, on balance, back remaining in the EU, although many say they need more information in order to make a clear decision.
NFU president Meurig Raymond believes farmers are better off remaining in the EU
NFU president Meurig Raymond believes farmers are better off remaining in the EU

Just over half the NFU’s 47,000 members back staying in the EU, according to a survey carried out in the autumn, while a more recent survey also showed support for remaining.

 

But many NFU members feel they need more information before they can take a definitive stance on the issue.

 

The NFU’s dedicated in-house survey team carried out a random telephone survey of 658 members in October and November 2015 to gauge their views on whether the UK should stay on the EU or exit the union.

 

The results were decisive, although the survey will not have taken into account the debate that has unfolded since Prime Minister David Cameron announce the EU Referendum would tale place on June 23.

 

It showed:

 

  • Over half of NFU members, 52 per cent, said they would vote to remain in the EU when polled.
  • Exactly half that number, 26 per cent, said they wanted to leave the EU.
  • The remainder, 22 per cent, were undecided.

 

A further survey of 1024 members randomly selected across England this spring were asked if they thought the NFU should take a position, based solely on whether the interests of British agriculture would be best served by the UK remaining a member of the EU, or leaving the EU.

 

This taken ahead of the NFU’s debate on the union’s position on the Referendum.

 

It showed 69 wanted the NFU to take a position but there was a lack of clarity on what that position should be.

 

  • 36 per cent said the NFU should state is in the UK agriculture’s interest to remain in the EU.
  • 21 per cent said the NFU should say it is UK agriculture’s interest to leave.
  • But the highest proportion, 43 per cent, said they don’t know.

 

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Following a long debate on April 18, the NFU Council adopted a resolution stating that ’on the balance of existing evidence available to us at present, the interests of farmers are best served by our continuing membership of the European Union’.

 

The NFU has resolved that ’under no circumstances will it advise its members how to vote’ but that it will continue to provide members with information from both sides of the campaign relevant to farming.

 

NFU president Meurig Raymond explained the union was legally required to come up with a clear position on the Brexit debate in order to provide further information to members.

 

Otherwise it would have been restricted to spending no more than £10,000 on providing this information.

 

The NFU said it was clear from feedback from the members’ members’ meetings it held around the country that many of those who were undecided were waiting for more information before taking a decision.

 

"That’s why the NFU produced a report setting out the UK farming industry’s relationship with the EU and subsequently commissioned its own impact assessment of potential BREXIT scenarios," the union said.

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