By STEVE BINDER
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A majority of consumers recently surveyed by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) say they believe food production is heading in the right direction. A total of 53 percent of consumers surveyed nationally late last year rated food production systems as doing well, an increase of 5 percent over the alliance’s previous survey in 2011.
“I am encouraged to see that Americans are becoming more confident in our food supply and that they believe farmers and ranchers are improving,” said Bob Stallman, chair of the Missouri-based USFRA. Stallman also is chair and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We are doing something right, but we still have a long way to go in talking with American families and consumers, and answering their questions about food. That’s why America’s farmers and ranchers are continuing a dialogue with consumers.”
To that end, the group’s latest award winners as “Faces of Farming and Ranching” this year will take part in a national campaign to improve communication between producers and consumers.
A total of 1,250 consumers nationally, with an additional 236 consumers in New York City alone, took part in the latest survey. Among some of the other key findings:
•That 27 percent of consumers are often confused about the food they are buying. The percentage was highest, at 38 percent, among people aged 18-29.
•That three out of every five consumers want to know more about how food is grown and raised, but they believe they don’t have the time to make it a priority.
•That a solid majority, 84 percent, of respondents believe farmers and ranchers are committed to improving how food is grown and raised.
Of the 501 farmers and ranchers surveyed, some of the key findings were:
•That 75 percent believe the average consumer has little or no knowledge about food production in the United States.
•That nearly three out of five farmers and ranchers believe consumers have an inaccurate perception of modern agriculture.
•That 42 percent of farmers and ranchers want to see more emphasis on sustainability and the environment, and that 36 percent want more transparency with consumers and customers.
Despite the increase by consumers in the belief that production systems are on the right track, there remains a disconnect with farmers and consumers. A total of 51 percent of farmers and ranchers surveyed said they would like to see more communication with consumers and customers, while 50 percent of consumers said they believe farmers are missing in media conversations about food.
Also, while 75 percent of farmers and ranchers said they believe the average consumer has little or no knowledge about food production, about 53 percent of all Americans have not visited a farm or ranch.
The entire survey can be accessed online by visiting www.fooddialogues.com