Left to Right: USFRA CEO Randy Krotz and USFRA Chairwoman and Wisconsin farmer Nancy Kavazanjian in the BASF Media Tent at 2015 Farm Progress prior to announcing USFRA’s new sustainability survey results.
Left to Right: USFRA CEO Randy Krotz and USFRA Chairwoman and Wisconsin farmer Nancy Kavazanjian in the BASF Media Tent at 2015 Farm Progress prior to announcing USFRA’s new sustainability survey results.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) is focused on answering questions consumers have about how food is grown and raised. These questions are often answered online on the organization’s social media platforms and via its signature Food Dialogues® series of panel discussions. Additionally, USFRA gathers insights on the types of questions and concerns about agriculture that are top-of-mind by surveying consumers. Today, USFRA shared insights from a recent consumer survey focused on farming, ranching and sustainability.

“For USFRA, no question about agriculture is off the table,” said Nancy Kavazanjian, Chairwoman of USFRA. “We want to make sure farmers and ranchers are involved in the most important conversations about food. We know that impact on the environment is a frequent conversation when it comes to food production. While farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land, we have not always been vocal voices in the environmental conversation, and we want that to change.”

USFRA intends to use findings from the research to better answer questions consumers have about sustainability and agriculture. The survey found that 56 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement, “Farmers and ranchers use new technologies and innovations to protect the environment.” While 47 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement, “The way that most of today’s farming and ranching operations in the U.S. grow and raise food meets the standards of sustainability.” However, when presented with the same statement, the survey revealed that women are less likely than men to agree that farming and ranching practices are sustainable – 37 percent of women versus 59 percent of men responding they are in agreement.

Additionally, the survey findings provided several insights to help farmers and ranchers better engage in conversations about sustainability practices on their farms or ranches. Among the findings:

  • Consumers are interested in learning more about what farmers and ranchers touch most – The survey revealed a need to frame stories about sustainability around water, soil, air and habitat.
  • Consumers are interested in the human impact of sustainability – Respondents shared interest in the actions farmers and ranchers are taking to improve human health through access to safe, nutritious food and the impact they are making on the local community, specifically improvements to the social and economic well-being of agriculture communities.
  • Consumers are interested in how agriculture is focused on the future, versus defining past successes – When discussing sustainability, respondents want to hear about future commitments to the environment versus stories about a farming operations’ multi-generational history.  Consumers are also interested in learning how farmers and ranchers are doing more with fewer resources and impact, while preserving the land for the next generation.

“The findings of the sustainability survey provide many insights that will help farmers and ranchers better connect with consumers,” said Kavazanjian. “There are many stories about environmental stewardship to be told and this research will help us guide our storytelling. I’m particularly excited to help farmers and ranchers share how they are using cutting edge technologies on farms and ranches across the country to improve sustainability. We can now better tell these stories, knowing what is most important to consumers when it comes to sustainability.”

For more information on USFRA’s consumer research on sustainability, please contact Joanna Schroeder, USFRA Ag Communications Mgr, 949-812-8022; jschroeder@usfraonline.org.

About the Survey Methodology

The Tarrance Group conducted a national survey of consumer attitudes regarding sustainability for USFRA. These key findings are based on on-line interviews with N=1,000 targeted segments of the consumer population across the country. The specific consumer segments were as follows: Millennial (18-34 year old) parents; Millennial (18-34 year old) non-parents; Food Connectors and 150 general Consumers. Responses to this survey were gathered June 26-30, 2015 and the margin of error associated with a sample of this type is + 3.1% in 95 out of 100 cases.