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State of the Rural Nation Survey

State of the Rural Nation Survey shows farming less attractive as a career despite being viewed as part of New Zealand’s identity
• Split opinion on GMO use in New Zealand
• Those living rurally (and over 55) were less likely to feel that environmental sustainability was an important issue
• 89 percent feel technological innovation is having a positive impact on the rural sector

Auckland, 27 September 2018 – The results are in for Bayer New Zealand and Country TV’s State of the Rural Nation Survey which uncovered key insights regarding five critical topics affecting rural New Zealanders today.

The survey asked participants throughout the country a series of questions regarding their views on animal welfare and farming resources, crop science and the environment, rural connectivity and remote living and innovation and technology in Rural New Zealand.

The survey illustrated that over half of respondents believe farming is becoming less attractive as a career - many highlighting that it’s now an increasingly stressful occupation with added concerns around the financial security of the industry. The widely publicised Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak and other recent diseases were noted as a contributing factor, with over half of survey participants indicating they had been personally affected by disease outbreaks.

Although less attractive as a career, there is still a national sense of pride when it comes to our agricultural industry with 97 percent believing farming to be a key part of New Zealand’s identity.

“The rural sector makes up a significant part of New Zealand - it’s integral that we hear from people in these regions first hand, so we can better understand the issues they face,” says Bayer New Zealand’s managing director, Derek Bartlett.

“A better understanding will allow us to look at solutions, which is a key focus for Bayer globally. We are investing in innovation that will benefit farms of all sizes, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility.

“It was therefore pleasing to see how technology innovation is positively received by rural New Zealand.”

In response to rural living, 78 percent stated they believe they have less access to services because of their location - 90 percent of which were people in their midlife, between the ages of 40-54. Unsurprisingly, most rural dwellers (82 percent) experienced slower internet and or network issues.

Urban dwellers, younger people and men believe their quality of life is improving due to technological innovation, however for women, those over 40 and people living rurally, this was less so.

Regarding environmental sustainability, those living rurally and those over 55 were less likely to feel as strongly about environmental sustainability as urban dwellers and those aged between 18-39.

Furthermore, the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) proved to be a polarising topic, with both 39 percent for and against the growing of GMOs in New Zealand. Interestingly, the responses saw a significant variance in gender, with 62 percent of those who responded positively toward GMOs being male (25 percent female) and nearly half voting against being female (25 percent male).

Country TV’s General Manager, Helen Ryan says the survey insights are a powerful insight into how the rural region feels about the issues that matter.

“The survey findings reinforced some of the preconceptions such as the financial pressures felt in the agriculture and farming industries, and also uncovered things we weren’t expecting. For example, we were surprised to see that one in four people felt uninformed about GMO use and it was interesting to see how the results were impacted by generational differences.”

In-depth discussions with industry experts will take place on a special series on Country TV’s Point of View show, airing every Friday at 7:30pm on Sky TV channel 81. Each episode will explore one topic in full, with further insights uncovered into the results of the State of the Rural Nation.

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