BRITISH farmers have expressed their support for the post-Brexit ‘public money for public goods’ policy in a national survey.

Conducted by environmental organisation, Wildlife and Countryside Link (WC), the survey questioned 500 farmers on their attitudes towards the new agricultural policy. Half of farmers responded that they agreed with the principle of public money for public goods, with one third staying neutral, and only one in five disagreed.

Younger farmers showed to be the most supportive with 56 per cent in favour and only 15 per cent against public money for public goods.

The research also showed that 80 per cent of farmers questioned believed the health of the natural environment was important or very important for their farm business, whilst 56.2 per cent voted that pollution prevention was “most deserving of government funding”, and should be better supported.

Animal welfare (50.4 per cent), habitat restoration (41 per cent) and biodiversity conservation (38.2 per cent) all ranked more highly than food productivity and competitiveness, which 38 per cent of farmers said should be prioritised.

One third of farmers who took part said they were currently taking no environmental action to deal with problems on their farms, whilst 44 per cent were undertaking one or two environmental activities.

Helen Chesshire, senior farming adviser at the Woodland Trust and chairwoman of WC’s agriculture group, described farmers as “key guardians of our environment”, and said the results were a clear vote from farmers for keeping a strong environmental focus in future farming policies.

Since the results, 26 environment, access, and animal welfare charities have called on the government to ensure that public goods such as the environment, animal welfare and public access remain the central focus of the Agriculture Bill as it passed through Parliament.

The groups said the new bill should guarantee long-term public goods-based funding, giving farmers the certainty they needed to invest in improving nature, animal welfare and public access.

They added that it should also enforce fair regulations which applied to all rural land managers, regardless of whether they receive public funding, and ensure farmers receive a fair return from the market for their produce.