FARMING POLL 2015: Farmers have faith in local maternity hospitals but rural broadband an issue

Three-quarters of those in the farming community have faith in their local maternity hospital, an Irish Examiner/ICMSA poll shows.

While 49% have strong faith in their local maternity service, one in five are undecided on the issue.

However, fewer than half of all farmers are happy with the level of broadband available to them in their area, according to the poll.

Asked if they were satisfied with the broadband service in their locality, just 28% agreed and a further 19% strongly agreed.

However, 20% strongly disagreed with the idea that their broadband service was satisfactory, while another 19% disagreed.

A further 13% were undecided on the issue. Tillage farmers are the most satisfied with their broadband with 70% in agreement.

Also, the older the respondent, the less likely they were to agree that their level of broadband was satisfactory, while location also played a role in satisfaction levels: 26% of those attending the Carbery show were happy with their broadband and just 28% in Athenry were satisfied, as opposed to the 60% of respondents attending the Tullamore show and 59% attending at Charleville that expressed satisfaction with their service.

Those with an off-farm in come were also slightly more likely to express satisfaction with the quality of their broadband (51%) than those working on the farm (43%).

The poll also shows the prominent role that mobile phone technology has in the running of a modern farm.

Responding to the statement “Mobile phone technology is critical to the profitable running of my farm”, 86% agreed and 60% of respondents strongly agreed.

This possibly reflects the more mobile nature of farming and also the growth in agriculture and farm-related smartphone apps, such as the popular Herdwatch app.

There was little variation across the demographics, although 68% of those aged 65 and over stressed the importance of mobile phone technology to their farm’s profitability, as opposed to 90% and above of respondents aged under 34 and up to age 54.

ICMSA president John Comer said differing attitudes towards issues such as broadband access and water charges illustrated that there was still an urban/rural divide.

“The question of local maternity services and access — or non-access — to broadband falls into exactly the same category [as water charges], where rural communities are made to feel they’re somehow whingeing if they ask for something resembling the same level and standard that people in Donnybrook or Douglas just take for granted,” he said.

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