Thursday, October 28, 2010

Survey shows Iowa overwhelmingly supports farmers

As the national conversation about agriculture focuses on large-scale farming and its impact on the environment, Iowans continue to hold a positive view of their farmers. A poll from the Des Moines Register reveals 62 percent of Iowans say they have a mostly positive view of farmers and 30 percent say they have a very positive view, Philip Brasher reports. "But many Iowans do have concerns about the effects of farming on Iowa's air and water," Brasher writes, noting "one in three people surveyed said he believes the state's air and water quality is getting worse."

"My concern is on pollution," John Fisher of Des Moines told Brasher. "They have to use chemicals to gain their production, but I think they use too many." Farm groups across the country have been fighting back with public relations campaigns against recent hits to agriculture's images from a series of best-sellers and documentaries that blame the nation's obesity problem on agriculture, and corn in particular, Brasher writes. Just 33 percent of survey respondents felt that air quality is getting better, while 34 percent thought it's getting worse.

"A majority of the 803 respondents, 51 percent, felt that food is safer than a generation ago," Brasher writes. "A plurality thought that the nutritional value of food is improving, soil erosion is less of a problem and livestock are being treated more humanely." Thirty-nine percent believed water quality was improving, compared to 34 percent who said it was getting worse. Craig Lang, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, said the poll was good news for Iowa farmers considering it came after the summer's nation-wide salmonella outbreak linked to two Iowa-based egg producers. "From the perception of consumers, I think farmers came out relatively strong, but we need to continue to work and make sure that consumers know what we're doing and the reasons why," Lang said. (Read more)

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