This report sheds light on our shared concerns about farming: costs, caring for the environment, and animal welfare. And highlights the differences: urban consumers are more concerned about sustainable practices and food quality than rural consumers, while rural people worry about government interference in farming, misinformation, and mental health.
This research project surveyed and interviewed over 1300 people and asked New Zealanders – urban and rural – what they really think about farming. People from diverse backgrounds said that farming provides strong benefits to the country. But recognising the sector’s benefits does not equate to greater trust in farming. Farmers and urban consumers alike recognised that trust and understanding between town and country is low: farmers believe they understand the public’s concerns, but that the public doesn’t connect with them or understand the issues they face, while urban consumers value primary sector production, but don’t feel that the primary sector communicates well or can be trusted. Neither group feels listened to.
To build trust, urban people call for promotion of sustainable practices, while rural people want to get more positive farming stories in the media.
Government, media, and supermarkets could create connection between urban and rural New Zealanders rather than sowing dissent by telling authentic farming stories – and both groups need to see and want more opportunities to connect.
Prepared for Our Land and Water National Science Challenge by Massey University