Findings of two national surveys about U.S. food and how it is grown and raised were released during "The Food Dialogues," a town hall-style discussion presented by U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). The surveys focused separately on the opinions, attitudes and questions consumers and farmers/ranchers have about the current and future state of how food is grown and raised in the U.S. Results reveal that lack of access to information, as well as no interest or passion for the topic, have divided consumer opinion on the direction of agriculture.
"Americans have a lot of questions about where their food comes from, how it is raised and if it is good for their health long-term," said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "USFRA commissioned two separate surveys to first ask farmers and ranchers what they wished Americans could have more information about where their food comes from. We then asked consumers what questions they have on the same topic. The findings of both surveys indicate there is an opportunity for more dialogue between farmers, ranchers and the American public about how food is grown and raised in the U.S."
Results of both surveys will be shared and discussed during The Food Dialogues, which is taking place today in four U.S. cities and online via Facebook (http://apps.facebook.com/fooddialogues) and www.fooddialogues.com. Highlights of the research include:
- While nearly all Americans agree that food production is important to the success of the country, they are split over whether it is going in the right or wrong direction
- Consumers think about food production constantly, yet know very little about how food is brought to the dinner table
- Overwhelmingly, farmers and ranchers share the same values as consumers on issues related to environmental stewardship and animal care
Additional Consumer Survey Highlights
The purpose of the consumer survey was to ask Americans what additional information they want to learn more about related to how food is grown and raised in the U.S. The survey revealed that consumers have become disconnected from their food, yet think about the subject regularly. According to the survey findings:
- 72 percent of consumers know nothing or very little about farming or ranching
- 69 percent of consumers think about food production at least somewhat often
- 70 percent say purchase decisions are affected by how food is grown and raised, with three-quarters (72 percent) of Americans saying they think about this topic while purchasing groceries
- 42 percent or two-in-five Americans say the way that food is grown and raised has improved in the last 10 years, while a slightly smaller group say it has worsened (37 percent)
- Those who say the way that food is grown and raised has improved cite food safety (22 percent) and food quality (17 percent), whereas respondents who said the way food is grown and raised has worsened also cite food safety (21 percent) and food quality (21 percent)
- Of all the aspects of how food is grown and raised, Americans are most satisfied with the availability of healthy foods (73 percent) and food safety standards (66 percent)
- One in five consumers who say food production has worsened in the last 10 years cite environmental impact as the top area of demise
- 79 percent of consumers say producing healthy choices for all consumers is very important for farmers and ranchers to consider when planning farming and ranching practices