Canadians positive towards food, farming and farmers
September 17, 2012 By CNW Group
Sept. 17, 2012. Guelph, ON – Canadians continue to have an increasingly positive impression of Canadian agriculture, with 88% of those polled ranking it positive or neutral, up from 81% in 2009 and 75% in 2006. That’s one of the key findings from the new 2012 Farm and Food Care “Canadian Attitudes Study towards Food and Farming” study.
“Our research shows that although food and farming isn’t a top of mind issue for most Canadians, most have an overall positive impression of our food, how it’s grown and the people who produce it,” says Crystal Mackay, Executive Director, Farm & Food Care. “Canadians ranked farmers as warmly and favourably as their own family and friends, just slightly above doctors and other medical professionals.”
This year’s research, which builds on previous studies dating back to 2001, was expanded to include gathering public opinion on the five pillars of sustainable food: food safety, environment, farm animal health and welfare, human health and economics/food affordability.
Canadians feel they are generally better informed about food and farming than they were even three years ago, and more than half of them are interested in learning more. Approximately 70% of Canadians have visited a farm at least once before. Other findings demonstrate that Canadians are concerned about rising costs – including the cost of food – and many try to buy local by purchasing Canadian food products when possible.
“This tracking research goes a long way in helping farmers and people in the agri-food business to understand what Canadians believe, both today and in monitoring trends over time, as they relate to the importance of agriculture, interest and what people would like to know more about how their food is produced,” says Mackay.
Surveys were conducted online using Ipsos Reid’s I-Say Online Household Panel in mid-August among 1229 Canadian adults that had no household connection to agriculture. Investment in this project has been provided by several agri-food industry partners and by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, this program is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council.
Farm & Food Care is a non-profit association that represents thousands of farmers and related businesses with a mandate to provide credible information on food and farming in Ontario. For more information on the study, the organization or about farming and food production in Canada, visit www.farmfoodcare.org.
Canadian attitudes towards food and farming study – 2012 Highlights
What’s top of mind?
- When asked unaided, healthcare and the economy are the top of mind issues facing Canadians.
- Canadians are concerned about rising costs, particularly health care costs, food costs, and energy costs.
Overall impressions of agriculture and farmers
- 56% of Canadians have a very or somewhat positive impression of Canadian agriculture, 32% are neutral. This is an increase from 2009 at 52%, and 41% in 2006.
- 61% of Canadians rated farmers with a very warm and favourable impression, at the top with family and friends. Next on the list were doctors/nurses and medical professionals at 54% and grocery stores/food retailers at 46%.
- When asked to rank the five pillars of sustainable food, the safety of the food Canadians eat and the overall health of Canadians came out as the top two priorities, followed by food affordability, the environment and farm animal welfare.
Knowledge of farming and food
- 52% of Canadians know at least a little about farming practices. That’s an increase from 48% in 2009.
- 59% said they want to know more; specifically, about health/safety issues, farm products, treatment of animals, and farming techniques.
- 70% of Canadians have visited a farm at least once before.
About the study
- The 2012 Farm and Food Care National Consumer Attitude Study 2012 was conducted using Ipsos Reid’s I-Say Online Household Panel of over 200,000 Canadian adults.
- 1229 surveys were conducted between August 17th and August 23rd, 2012.
- In order to qualify for the study, respondents needed to be at least 18 years of age, and neither the respondent, nor a member of the respondent’s household could be involved with agriculture.
- Farm groups fund the study to find out what the average Canadian thinks about food and farming.
- The Farm Issues Survey is a key activity for Farm and Food Care, as evident through their investment in the 2001, 2006 and 2009 waves of the survey. The survey has acted as a tool to help better understand the opinions of Canadians as they relate to:
- perceptions of food related topics such as food production, safety, human health, animal welfare, the environment and economics/affordability.
- the relative importance of agriculture, food production and related issues
- and their interest and knowledge of farming and food production
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