Trust in agriculture increases with farm visits: survey

Residents of the Greater Toronto Area who have worked in agriculture or have recently visited a working farm are more likely to be optimistic about job prospects in the agriculture sector.

That’s according to a recent survey of 676 residents of the GTA by Grassroots Public Affairs and Delphi Polling and Consulting.

The survey highlighted the decreasing number of people who have a connection to agriculture. Seventy per cent of respondents said neither they, nor their relatives work in agriculture.

Despite that lack of connection to agriculture, 82 per cent believe that government should increase its support of agriculture and food over other popular government support targets such as automotive and manufacturing. The older the respondent, the more likely they are to agree with government support. Respondents who have visited a working farm in the past two years are also more likely to agree with government support.

About four in 10 respondents had visited a farm in the past two years, with 14 per cent saying they have never visited a working farm.

The survey showed that more than 60 per cent of respondents strongly believe that the Ontario agrifood industry produces “high-quality, safe food,” showing a level of trust in the industry.

There are some slightly contradictory findings in the survey, including that about 46 per cent were pessimistic about the future of agriculture and believe it will shrink, yet 64 per cent believe the agriculture sectors will be capable of creating more jobs in the future.

Women are more pessimistic than men about the future of agriculture, with about half believing that the industry will shrink.

The survey was undertaken in order to better understand what urban and suburban residents think about agriculture, especially when GTA residents are relatively isolated from the sector.

Grassroots Public Affairs, which funded the survey, is a company that helps organizations and businesses with their public and government relations, especially relating to agrifood and rural economic development.

The survey is accurate to 3.77 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

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Glacier FarmMedia, a division of Glacier Media, is Canada's largest publisher of agricultural news in print and online.

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