COVID-19 boosts Kiwi’s positive perceptions of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farming

// Industry

The latest UMR results show COVID-19 appears to be having a positive impact on New Zealanders’ views of sheep and beef farmers.

farmer herd

The research shows close to three-fifths (63%) of New Zealanders have a positive view of sheep and beef farming. This is a significant increase of 9% compared to just eight months ago. 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s CEO Sam McIvor says, it’s really positive to see people appreciate the hard work and dedication by New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers, particularly during the challenges of COVID-19 on top of feed shortages and a decrease in meat processing capacity.

“During these challenging times, the sector has maintained its exports and jobs, showing resilience and playing to its strengths.”

“I’m extremely proud of what farmers have achieved and it is great to see this also acknowledged by the public.

The UMR results also show dairy farmers enjoyed a similar increase in positive support now at a 60% rating  up from 51%. Horticulture continues to receive the highest positive rating of 65%. Ratings for fisheries just clicked over into majority positive territory at 53% up from 47% in August 2019.   

Why are New Zealanders more positive towards food-producing industries?

The main reasons New Zealanders gave for feeling more positively disposed towards these food-producing industries included being efficient and high-quality producers of food at both a national and global level, being an essential industry and being good for the economy by generating export earnings as well as jobs.

They also appreciated the way farmers worked through – and will help NZ get through – the COVID-19 crisis. Marc Elliott, Director of Rural Research at UMR said, the research appeared to show that in a time of crisis, New Zealanders are more clearly seeing the critical importance of their food-producing sectors.

“When times are good, critical aspects of our economy can be taken for granted, however in the current crisis our food producers appear to be receiving the extra credit they deserve.” 

About the UMR research

The results are based on questions asked in the UMR online omnibus survey, which is a nationally representative sample of 1,077 New Zealanders 18 years and over. This survey was conducted between 21st and 27th April 2020.