Rural-urban unity seen

New research shows there is no rural-urban divide in New Zealand, academics say.

Massey University School of People, Environment and Planning senior lecturer Alice Beban said the research from Massey University and Our Land and Water National Science Challenge found rural communities, farmers and city dwellers were united in a shared appreciation of the role that farmers play in producing food, providing jobs and caring for the environment.

"Where we do find antagonism, it wasn’t directed at farmers but instead at institutions such as government and supermarkets."

The Diverse Experiences of Farming project surveyed and interviewed more than 1300 people and asked New Zealanders — urban and rural — what they thought about farming.

Massey University School of Agriculture and Environment rural scientist Janet Reid said food production was a source of pride for all communities, genders, ages and ethnicities.

However, while urban consumers were less positive about producing food for export, providing food for New Zealand tables was seen as a valuable contribution.

Affordability, taste and being locally grown were all important considerations in food-buying decisions.

Urban and rural New Zealanders also shared many of the same concerns when it came to farming.

Cost was the most common concern for both groups, who pointed to rising food costs and the rising costs of farming inputs.