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South West farmers back staying in the EU

A survey of more than 1,000 South West farmers has shown divided loyalties, ahead of the June 23 EU Referendum.
More farmers in the South West want to remain in the EU than leave
More farmers in the South West want to remain in the EU than leave

South West farmers are, on balance, in favour of remaining in the EU, although more than one in three back Brexit, according to a new survey by experts at the University of Exeter.

 

A total of 1,251 farmers who took part in the postal survey in early May, run by the University’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP),

 

It showed:

 

  • Almost half (45.8 per cent) of those questioned said the interests of British agriculture will be best served by the UK remaining a member of the EU.
  • More than a third (35.5 per cent) indicated that it would be in the interest of British agriculture to leave the EU.
  • The remaining 18.7 per cent were unable to give an answer.
  • If this group is removed the proportion in favour of remain is 56.6 per cent while 43.4 per cent favour leaving.

 

The farmers were also asked about future Government financial support for agriculture.

 

Only 17.1 per cent thought it would remain at broadly similar levels in the event of a Brexit, while 44.5 per cent thought it would not. The remaining 38.4 per cent said they did not know.

 

Older farmers were significantly more confident that support would be maintained if we left the EU compared to those who were younger.

 

Robust survey

 

LEEP Director Professor Matt Lobley said: “This is a robust survey of the views of farmers. The 1,251 respondents represent approximately 5 per cent of all farms in the South West and almost 9 per cent of the region’s farmland.

 

“These findings suggest that some farmers feel the Common Agricultural Policy has an important role in supporting their work, and that they are concerned leaving the European Union could leave them more economically vulnerable than they are now.

 

LEEP Director Professor Michael Winter OBE said: “The UK is a highly urbanised nation.

 

"Our research shows that farmers are sceptical about whether the UK government outside the EU would maintain the same level of support for farmers as under the EU.

 

History suggests that politicians would prefer to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.”


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