Over the last decade agriculture in the United Kingdom has experienced a traumatic change, almost a reversal, in the public esteem it for long had enjoyed. Until the late 1970s farmers were generally regarded favourably by the public, given the occasional carp about feather-bedding, and their activities were assumed to be contributing to the general welfare of the country. Agriculture was admired for its efficiency, and the way that its productivity had increased was held up as an example for other sectors of the economy. It was seen as a triumph for the virtues of the small family business. Farming was an industry which had moved with the times; compared with the agricultures of other countries it was widely thought the most efficient. In the countryside farming was perceived as the most important user of land and, if there was a conflict with other users such as road builders or housing developers, there was an in-built feeling that the agricultural use should be heavily weighted in the deliberation of planning committees or public enquiries. Spending on support for farmers was accepted as necessary and desirable. Few questioned that the best way of assisting prosperity in the countryside was to channel public funds into farming; higher farming incomes would lead to higher rural incomes and by a multiplier process more business activity in rural areas.
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- Introduction and Overview
- Macmillan Education UK
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