WASHINGTON — Americans’ perception of U.S. farmers is overwhelmingly positive, and a sense of trust has increased in recent months.
A new national public opinion poll from American Farm Bureau Federation shows more than half of the 2,200 adults surveyed have a positive view of farmers’ sustainability practices, and 88% of them trust farmers—a 4% increase from AFBF’s June 2020 poll.
“Americans have a high level of trust in farmers, and they understand that we’re committed to protecting the soil, air and water,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Our survey demonstrates that Americans are impressed by advancements in climate-smart farming, and we look forward to building on that success.”
The poll explored how Americans believe sustainability efforts on farms should be funded. Overall, the public agrees farmers shouldn’t be expected to bear the financial burden alone. Seventy percent said government incentives to encourage farmers to adopt additional sustainable agricultural practices would be effective. More than three-quarters of adults believe it is important for the government to fund science-based research and improve infrastructure that supports agriculture.
Survey responses conveyed positive public attitudes about farmers’ environmental sustainability achievements, and the development of climate-smart farming in the future. More than eight in 10 Americans were impressed to learn farmers put 140 million acres in conservation programs and tripled the amount of food grown in the past 70 years using the same or fewer resources, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Wilmer Stoneman, vice president of agriculture, development and innovation at Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, thinks Thomas Jefferson said it best.
“‘Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness,’” Stoneman quoted. “These results show that we all believe that as well.”
The poll revealed a lack of public awareness of agriculture’s relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., with more than four in five adults unable to correctly identify agriculture’s impact. However, nearly half of adults correctly ranked agriculture as the smallest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector. The EPA reports agriculture accounts for 10% of total U.S. emissions—far less than the transportation, electricity production, commercial and residential, and industry sectors.
–Virginia Farm Bureau