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EU Farmer Confidence Barometer explores the phenomenon of "agri-bashing"

Over 30 percent of French and German farmers are reported as feeling demotivated because of “agri-bashing”.

by Megan Howell
2 July 2020, at 7:30am

Over 30 percent of French and German farmers are reported as feeling demotivated because of “agri-bashing”.

Does “agri-bashing” impact farmers’ moods? The EU Farmers’ Confidence Barometer conducted an initial survey to assess the reality of this concept. The first results showed that French and German farmers felt the most criticised while Italy and Hungary seemed less affected by this trend. In both France and Germany, over 30 percent of farmers reported that this criticism had a clear impact on their motivation to continue farming.

While the concept of “agri-bashing” is on the rise in the media across various EU Member States, the precise definition remains elusive. The definition of “agri-bashing” varies from one country to another. The survey carried out by Copa-Cogeca within the scope of its Confidence Barometer aimed at understanding where farmers felt the majority of unfair criticism was coming from (be this from traditional sources or social media) and the impact it had on their motivation to continue farming.

As part of the semestrial Farmers’ Confidence Barometer, Copa-Cogeca ran a survey among 2,500 farmers from four different EU countries in order to see whether they perceived themselves as being criticised for their farming practices during the first quarter of 2020. The four countries included were Italy, Hungary, France and Germany.

The results varied depending on the country. France was affected the most, with farmers reporting an increased amount of critical comments concerning farming activities in the public discourse. 75 percent of French farmers agreed that their farming practices had been criticised and 48 percent suggested that the number of critical comments had dramatically increased in comparison to the previous quarters.

Germany came second with 59 percent of farmers believing that their practices had been criticised, while in Hungary (38 percent) and Italy (12 percent) criticism in public discourse proved to have a lesser impact.

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On whether farmers had been directly criticised (mainly through social media) for their farming practices, France was number one again with 26 percent agreeing with this statement, followed by Germany with 14 percent and Hungary with 6 percent.

Finally, when asked whether the criticism that they may have encountered, either directly or through public discourse, had dampened their motivation to continue farming, a surprising 12 percent of Italian farmers agreed that it had, despite their low criticism percentage. France’s high criticism percentage meant that for 31 percent of French farmers their motivation is directly affected by this criticism. In Germany, an even higher percentage of farmers felt their motivation had been impacted, with 33 percent of them agreeing that public and direct criticism affected them.

This overall outcome could imply further underlying issues and socio-economic impacts as far as farmers’ motivation is concerned, as the extent of the criticism in each country does not appear to directly correlate with farmers’ motivation.