The reality of farming is this: It is hard work, all day, every day. A recent study by The Prince’s Countryside Fund found the public have a somewhat rose-tinted view on the industry and what it actually means to be a farmer.
It has never been more widely obvious that people don’t necessarily understand what it takes to be a full-time farmer.
A recent study by The Prince’s Countryside Fund has further highlighted that the rosy view the public have of farming couldn’t be further from the reality farmers face every day.
Twenty five percent of adults in the UK (one in four) said they liked the idea of giving up their day job to work on a farm.
This suggests there is a loose connection somewhere when it comes to comprehending the tough realities of the profession.
To mark the beginning of National Countryside Week, which starts today (Monday July 31st), the PCF have published their “Who’d be a Farmer today?” report to explore what people really believe about farming.
When asked to estimate farmers’ salaries, the average guess came out at £46, 801.
A further nine percent went as far as to say farmers’ salaries exceeded £75,000.
Defra however reported that averages in 2015 fell below £20,000, the lowest since 2007, so why is there such a gap in knowledge when it comes to understanding how the industry really works?
Lord Curry, chairman of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: “The true reality of what it takes to be a farmer is not widely understood. Many of us envisage the picturesque countryside lifestyle with a comfortable living. Unfortunately, for one of the oldest professions which contributes over £108bn a year to the economy, the reality can be very different.”
Somewhere, vital insights are being lost.
Ninety-five percent of farmers feel as though the British public don’t understand the everyday challenges they face.
Statistics from the PCF’s Cash Flow Crisis in Farming report found that fifty percent of farmers no longer make a living from farming alone anymore while sixty-six percent of UK dairy farms have actually closed since 1995.
With thirty-two percent of respondents saying their knowledge of the countryside and farming was poor or extremely poor, it supports the theory that more needs to be done to create a stronger link between farmers and their consumers.
But farmers also do more than just “farm”.
They play a vital role in managing our countryside yet only twenty-one percent of us think farmers do so, with more of the public believing this is taken on by local councils or The National Trust.
Currently, the future of farming is one of uncertainty, but getting information about the industry out there is important in maintaining the support for British farming.
There is worry surrounding the amount of young people entering the industry too, the average age of a UK farmer being fifty-nine.
Charlotte Smith, President of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs said:
“Young people are a vital part of those communities and farming needs them, too. Promoting the opportunities available in the industry is certainly part of the ethos of our 624 Young Farmers’ Clubs across England and Wales, which are dedicated to developing young people who have a love of agriculture and rural life”
And it seems that British farmers share the same concerns. Seventy percent think there are not enough young people coming in to the profession, which could be down to numerous factors – income, the cost of starting up or perhaps the decrease in knowledge about food and its provenance in younger generations.
Show your support for British farming by getting involved in #Farm24. From 5am August 10, we will be documenting what happens on farms for a whole twenty-four hours to show the world what you do.
For more info go to www.fginsight.com/farm24