Farmers are under increased scrutiny In a time of heightened awareness, but a study by the Iowa Food and Family Project reports shoppers remain confident that farmers are trustworthy. Its research states:
· Eighty-four percent have a positive impression of farming, the highest in the survey’s history.
· Nearly three-quarters of respondents ranked farmers as doing a good to great job in caring for their livestock, such as cattle, hogs and poultry.
· More than half (56%) ranked farmers near the top on a five-point rating scale when asked about their commitment to animal care, environmental stewardship and overall impression of the job farmers do.
“These results are a testament to the fact that people know and trust farmers,” says Shannon Latham, vice president of Latham Seeds who also blogs frequently about food and farming topics. “Despite the media spotlight on the ag industry this past year, consumers continue to recognize Iowa farmers’ dedication to producing safe food and protecting our natural resources.”
Support of “antibiotic-free” food labels was of particular interest to livestock organizations like the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). According to Joyce Hoppes, IPPA promotions director, the slight downward trend in support is reassuring, but also means an area of opportunity for farmers to shed light on the practices they have on their farms.
Transparency is no longer optional, but a basic consumer expectation.
“Many members wanted us to take a deeper dive on best practices that can be implemented to help us meet consumers’ expectations or performance measures that will help us identify if we’re moving the needle in trust and transparency,” said Terry Fleck executive director of the Center for Food Integrity.
Consumers primarily hold food companies responsible for transparency, and it is one of the keys to overcoming the “big is bad” bias. According to Fleck, consumers want information on company practices, because those practices are an illustration of values in action, and values drive trust.
He says, “Consumers want the ability to engage; they want to be heard and acknowledged and they want straight answers to their questions.”