They Like Us

Written by Dennis Sun

Recently, a poll was completed by Morning Consult asking 1,917 registered voters to give their opinions regarding agriculture and sustainability. Most of those polled supports sustainability, by one definition or another, and they liked agriculture. The poll showed that many Americans think agriculture, farming and ranching are among the nation’s most sustainable sectors.

Sustainability was defined from the 1977 and 1990 Farm Bills as “a system of agriculture that will satisfy human food and fiber needs, enhance environmental quality, use resources efficiently, sustain the economic viability of farmers and ranchers and benefit society as a whole.” And we do that, don’t we?

At times, we in agriculture hear all the racket out there that the public may not approve of our practices. More often we hear that they just don’t understand agriculture and how their food ends up on their table, or worse yet, they try to tell us how we should do our jobs in raising their food as they don’t believe it’s safe because of something they read on Facebook. We all recognize we don’t do a good job of educating the public on how their food gets to the supermarkets, but we are getting better. Today, we are more aware of what we should say to the public as we find out what they want in their food.

I also think we have confused the public on food – even meat. This isn’t necessarily the fault of farmers or ranchers, though. The big conglomerates out there put ads on television that are less than true, confusing consumers. Thank God for our checkoffs to tell the true story.

It seems like many people today want checkoff reform. They don’t want beef checkoff funds to be used in lobbying. Well, politicians and those in Congress are just as confused about beef as the people who go to the grocery store.

The Morning Consult poll surveyed only registered voters, and that brought politics into the issue, but it also proved both Democrats and Republicans agree on many points in the survey. That should be a no-brainer. Both parties eat food, don’t they?

Eighty percent of Republicans said they agreed that modern agriculture is sustainable, as did 76 percent of Democrats. There was also strong bipartisan support for incentives related environmental sustainability versus outright government regulations. Sixty-five percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Democrats favored cooperative incentives that allow the government and farmers and ranchers to work together to address common issues.

Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they trust farmers and ranchers to make the right decisions when it comes to sustainability, and the same percent expressed trust in farmers and ranchers over government mandates.

By a five-to-one margin, respondents said cooperative incentives would boost environmental sustainability in agriculture over additional government regulations by 13 to 62 percent. Again, there was agreement across party lines favoring incentives, and more respondents said additional regulations would hurt sustainability on American farms and ranches rather than improving it.

This is the best part – a whopping 80 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, “The true success of an environmentally sustainable farming and ranching practice depends on whether that practice also leads to an economic opportunity for the farmer or rancher.”

There you go. That’s positive news. Give yourself a pat on the back, an ‘atta boy or girl and stay the course.