A survey across the European Union into attitudes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), has shown more than 90% of EU consumers regard agriculture and rural areas as important for the future.
The National Farmers’ Union also added that a large majority of Europeans were also in favour of continuing the CAP.
The Eurobarometer survey was conducted among 27,000 people across the 27 member states and found that 83% of respondents believed it was important to offer financial support to farmers, while 63% of those interviewed in the UK felt that CAP support was either adequate or even insufficient.
NFU head of economics and international affairs Thomas Hind said: “It is really encouraging to see such strong support from EU consumers for agriculture and the CAP. These results contradict the often negative portrayal of the policy in the UK.
"This suggests that British politicians need to consider carefully their stance on the policy. The survey highlights a strong preference for agricultural policy to be determined at EU level. This bears out our call against any re-nationalisation of the CAP or its budget.
“While the CAP fundamentally remains an economic policy, EU consumers understandably believe that the CAP should fulfil a variety of goals, including maintaining a supply of high-quality, healthy and safe food, ensuring reasonable food prices and ensuring a fair standard of living for farmers.
"All farmers across Europe would like to prosper in the market and become much less reliant on public support. However, the reality is that, in order to meet the high expectations of society, ongoing support for EU farmers is needed and the results of this survey appear to recognise this.
“The policy faces a number of significant challenges as we build towards the next major CAP reform for 2013 and we believe that the NFU can play a responsible and proactive role in shaping the policy to meet mutual goals of farmers and consumers.”