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Young Farmers debate at the Devon County Show

Looking on the bright side

Farming has a viable future in the South West according to a recent survey of the farming community at the Devon County Show.

Researchers at the University of Exeter polled a 100-strong audience during a Young Farmers debate on the topic ‘feeding the future’ and found that the overwhelming majority saw a bright outlook for agriculture in the region.

Dr Robert Fish, of the University’s Centre for Rural Policy Research, who led the survey said “The issue of how to produce more food to feed a growing world population is high up the political agenda and many conclude that this represents good news for the agricultural economy. The challenge is how to do this sustainably.”

The poll, which was conducted electronically and allowed everyone to view the results live on a screen, put a range of other questions to the audience including views on animal welfare, food quality and the environmental impacts of farming.

Dr Fish added, “The audience was slightly more divided when considering whether sustainability goals could be met in the light of more ambitious targets for food production, but the overall message was quite bullish. Only time will tell.”

An interesting further topic on the table during the poll was whether the audience regarded GM foods as part of the future of UK agricultural production. Well over a half of those surveyed thought it was.

Reflecting on the polling event Dr Matt Lobley, Co-Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research said “This was a fun way of gathering views on a key farming issue. It adds to our overall understanding of what the food security agenda means to the farming public and demonstrates the commitment of Devon’s farming families”.

The survey was supported by the Devon County Council.

Date: 2 June 2011

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