Minnesota farmers enjoy strong approval ratingsMinnesota farmers are enjoying approval ratings that would make many a politician blush, as a new survey finds more than 80 percent of respondents have a positive view of agriculture in the state.
Minnesota farmers are enjoying approval ratings that would make many a politician blush, as a new survey finds more than 80 percent of respondents have a positive view of agriculture in the state.
While the public is inundated with daily tracking polls in a presidential election year, it’s somewhat rare that individuals are surveyed on what the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau called “the earliest and most honorable of arts.”
A national strategic research firm, the Tarrance Group of Alexandria, Va., conducted a survey of 500 adult residents in November 2011 on their attitudes toward agriculture and farming in Minnesota. The survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.
“We tend to take for granted sometimes the effort and commitment of those in farming who are not only responsible for feeding the nation, but in many respects, the world,” says Allen Levine, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. “It’s comforting to know that Minnesota residents respect that commitment and effort.”
The survey found that an overwhelming majority viewed Minnesota farmers positively on the issues of the economy and conservation.
Almost nine in 10 respondents agreed that farming was very important to Minnesota’s economy. A similar ratio agreed with the statement that Minnesota farmers have a positive impact on the state and provide residents with many benefits. When asked to define that positive impact, approximately 65 percent of the answers listed supplying food, the economy and jobs.
On the issue of conservation, 73 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement farmers are the best stewards of the land, and that new technologies and innovations have allowed farmers to grow more and more on less land.
Nearly a century ago, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Today, fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living.
“This survey shows that Minnesotans believe farming and agriculture are a critical fabric of the state’s identity,” concludes Levine.