Survey Shows Iowans in Tune with Production Agriculture
Article submitted by Carol Balvanz, Director of Policy for the Iowa Soybean Association.
How do non-farmers view production agriculture?
The Iowa Soybean Association asked this question recently when it conducted a state-wide survey and focus groups with Iowans in the Mason City and Des Moines areas. The ISA found that Iowans are not easily swayed by anti-agriculture messaging. Even after last fall’s salmonella outbreak on two Iowa egg farms, Iowans stood with agriculture and not with special interest groups.
Non-farm residents expressed the overwhelming view that the salmonella outbreak was due to unsanitary conditions on two farms and had nothing to do with animal care. In fact, 80% of focus group participants and 500 Iowa voters surveyed by phone stated clearly that they believe Iowa farm animals are treated humanely and that adequate regulations for livestock care are already in place.
Showing a clear understanding of the economy, focus group participants expressed concerns that outside groups might try to place additional expensive regulations on livestock farmers, increasing their costs of business and ultimately the cost of food. Even a $10 increase in their monthly food bill would be more than 65% of respondents would be willing to spend on increased regulations. They expressed concern that expensive, and in their minds unnecessary, regulations might push livestock production out of the state and possibly even out of the country, increasing their food safety concerns.
Consumers trust Iowa’s farmers to supply safe, abundant food, and to do it while taking good care of their animals. Iowa consumers seem to have no illusions that livestock are pets. Instead, they see value in housing systems that keep animals warm, dry, comfortable and gaining weight quickly, so they can reach their destiny of becoming part of the food supply.
Grandpa’s farm may be gone, but Iowans in this survey strongly indicated they believe the values and animal care found on Grandpa’s farm lives on in a new, improved version with Iowa’s current crop of livestock producers.
Carol Balvanz has served as Director of Policy and Producer Outreach for the Iowa Soybean Association since 2005. In that position, she has worked with many individuals and groups to emphasize the value of production agriculture and food security to both Iowa and the U.S. She lives on a north-central Iowa livestock farm, raising cattle and sheep.