Survey shows high public approval
“Americans have a high level of trust in farmers, and they understand we’re committed to protecting the soil, air and water,” said American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall. “We want to leave the land better than we found it for our children and grandchildren, as well as our nation.”
AFBF recently conducted a national public opinion poll of 2,200 U.S. adults, finding a majority of those surveyed regard sustainability practices in agriculture positively.
“We recently conducted a survey to gauge the public’s perceptions of farmers and ranchers and their sustainability practices. What we found is more than half of the adults, 58 percent, rate the sustainability of farmers positively,” explained AFBF Chief Economist John Newton “We have broad agreement adults across demographic groups trust farmers.”
Nearly nine in 10 adults, or 88 percent, of those surveyed trust farmers, up four percent from similar polls in June. This increase could be attributed to members of the public recognizing farmers and ranchers were not behind food supply chain challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll results also state Americans understand farmers and ranchers must be economically and environmentally sustainable. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said they believe practices such as promoting soil health, conserving water and enhancing wildlife, as well as the ability of farmers to remain economically viable were very important to producers.
Survey results also show more than four in five adults say feeding the world and the ability to pass farms to future generations is important.
After reading about conservation programs farmers participate in during the survey, 81 percent of adults surveyed would describe the accomplishments of farmers in conservation as positive.
According to the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency, agriculture accounts for 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but the AFBF survey shows less than one in five adults think agriculture contributes between one and 10 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. Nearly 50 percent of people think agriculture contributes between 11 and 60 percent of GHG emissions.
The survey also explored how Americans think sustainability efforts on farms and ranches should be funded. Seventy percent of adults say government incentives to encourage farmers to adopt additional sustainable agriculture practices would be very effective and more effective than corporate commitments to sustainability goals.
More than 75 percent of adults believe it is important for the government to fund science-based research and improve infrastructure. Seventy-six percent of adults find researching new technologies and practices to help farmers adopt more efficient and sustainable practices was found important, and 78 percent of adults believe improving roads, bridges and broadband to support farm and ranch operations and communities is important.
However, 62 percent of adults believe corporations should compensate farmers for the additional cost of implementing environmental practices to help meet sustainability goals.
“The public doesn’t believe we need to do it alone,” said Newton. “I think they recognize climate smart technology adoption is a public good.”
“Our survey demonstrates Americans are impressed by advancements in climate-smart farming, and we look forward to building on this success,” added Duvall.
Although nearly half of adults correctly ranked agriculture as the smallest industry contributing to GHG emissions in the U.S., there is still work to be done to increase the awareness of agriculture’s comparatively small GHG contribution.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.