WASHINGTON — As Farm Bill talks get underway, the Walton Family Foundation, in collaboration with Morning Consult, is pointing to recent polling that shows nearly 90% of Americans believe that it is “important to update the agricultural system to encourage sustainable farming practices that support clean water and healthy, productive soil.” Roughly 80% of Americans also support modernizing the Farm Bill to support farmers as they implement more sustainable farming practices.
“Americans understand that water, food, and the health of the planet are all deeply connected – and it’s time that our policy and our food production reflect that,” said Moira Mcdonald, Environment Program Director of the Walton Family Foundation. “Supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably is a way to protect people and nature together. This should be a priority in the Farm Bill, and also a call to action to the food industry – people are hungry for sustainable options.”
Key findings from the poll include:
- A broad bipartisan coalition says it is at least an important priority for Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Farm Bill (88% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans).
- Proposals in the Farm Bill reauthorization that move farming practices toward being more sustainable are popular among voters: 76% of voters support helping “farmers to implement practices that protect our land, water, and health such as improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and establishing buffers between farm land and waterways.”
- Voters want the federal government to encourage sustainable farming practices. When asked, 60% of voters agree that “the federal government should use its power to encourage farmers to adopt more climate friendly practices.”
- Today’s inflation and rising food costs shouldn’t stop American agriculture from planning for the future. Most voters (84%) agree that “we need to do more to maintain soil health and water quality so we can feed future generations.” When asked to choose between the agriculture industry producing food in a sustainable way that ensures America will be able to produce healthy food for the future, or producing enough food to feed the American population now while keeping costs down, a majority of voters favor preparing for a sustainable future (57% to 44%).
- Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for political office in their state if they advocate for modernizing the Farm Bill to better help farmers address climate change (50% say that they are more likely).
These findings come as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) releases a new report commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation titled US Agriculture and the Net-Zero Challenge.
US agricultural activities – which provide the food we eat, the fibers we wear, and the biofuels that run our cars – account for ~11% of national greenhouse gas emissions and up to 20% of national emissions when looking at the entire agri-food value chain. As the United States works to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the participation and transformation of the nation’s agriculture sector will be vital.
This report explores twenty-four practices and technologies that can reduce net emissions from US agriculture across three categories – how we grow, what and how we eat, and how we use land. The report finds that in a “business-as-usual” scenario, emissions are likely to stay flat over the next 30 years. However, with concerted and coordinated effort by key actors across the agri-food value chain – including policymakers, researchers, companies, farmer and ranchers, and consumers, we could achieve an over 50% reduction in net emissions by 2050 while also improving livelihoods and the resiliency of our agri-food system.
“The US food & agriculture sector is critical to the success of the nation’s drive to net zero. Our report outlines practical steps that companies, policymakers, farmers and ranchers, consumers, and other stakeholders can take to make a more environmentally friendly, healthier, and resilient agri-food system a reality,” said Sonya Hoo, a BCG managing director and partner.
This poll was conducted between July 6-July 7, 2022 among a sample of 1,988 registered voters.
The interviews were conducted online and the data was weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on gender by age, educational attainment, race, marital status, home ownership, race by educational attainment, 2020 presidential vote, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
–Walton Family Foundation