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OFC - Study Shows Hidden Contribution of Agriculture

03 January 2013

UK - The contribution that agriculture makes to society in general is the focus of a new study released at the Oxford Farming Conference.

The study shows that farmers in the UK are central to solving some major problems facing the country, including water storage, flood defence and the social care of those in need.

The report says that in general, the public is supportive of farming in the UK and shows that farming has a continued importance to society at large.

Chairman of this year's conference, Mike Gooding said the research shows that farmers are making a significant contribution to biodiversity, accessible green space, health and communities.

"Our farmers have the skills and geographical reach to address some of society's fundamental challenges such as health, well-being and self-sustaining communities," said Mr Gooding.

"But turning that opportunity into reality requires a better connection between wider society and farmers and it is a two-way process."

The study shows that farmland biodiversity in the UK is valued at £938 million and people are prepared to pay an extra £2000 a year to live close to high-nature areas.

The study that was conducted by Dr Peter Carruthers of Vision 37 and Prof Michael Winter, director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research at the University of Exeter looks at issues behind the major environmental challenges and animal welfare concerns.

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "Farming contributes much more to our society than the crucial role of putting safe, nutritious food on our tables.

"The industry's worth £95 billion a year to the economy, thanks to growing demand abroad for our produce and our expertise.

"The market rewards that but it doesn't reward farming's role as one of the principal custodians of our rural landscape and wildlife."

Mr Gooding added that the aim of the study is to help policy makers, the agricultural industry, the public and the farmers to consider how they can use the agricultural assets better.

The study shows that:

  • The UK population consumes 100 per cent of the food produced on UK farms with 78 per cent of all indigenous food coming from UK farms.
  • £2.532 billion is spent on ethical food from UK sources which is a growth of 160 per cent over the last decade.
  • Farmland biodiversity is valued at £938.1 million.
  • There is scientific evidence of health benefits of exposure to nature.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

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