There’s more insight on what consumers think about America’s farmers thanks to a survey of consumer views on U.S. agriculture conducted with funding from the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff. Called the 2009 National Agricultural Image Survey, the study took place in February and surveyed a random sample of 1,000 registered voters with characteristics representative of the U.S. population. The results provide insights into seven main issues, including: the image of U.S. poultry and livestock producers; a farmer attribute analysis; and consumer attitudes on confinement livestock production, food prices, ag-related legislation, biobased products and biodiesel. Some of the study’s key findings include:

  • Individuals who are somewhat or very favorable toward U.S. poultry and livestock producers rose from 69 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2009.
  • Top positive farmer attributes among consumers are that farm families know about protecting air and water quality and that most farmers take good care of their animals.
  • Nearly 90 percent of consumers do not see farmers as a major reason for increases in retail food prices.
  • Most consumers agree that it is important to subsidize farmers to ensure that there is a safe food supply.
  • After hearing that anti-confinement legislation could force Americans to get their milk, eggs and meat from foreign producers, 78 percent of consumers are against the legislation.
  • Consumers see energy security as the most important benefit of biobased products.

“It was great to see from the 2009 agricultural survey that overall, consumers have a very positive attitude toward agriculture,” says Vanessa Kummer, a USB director and soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. “The survey is an important tool that helps USB develop effective messages to promote soy-based, environmentally safe products and the importance of maintaining animal agriculture.”