Most consumers acknowledge that they knew little or nothing about farming or ranching, according to a new survey, but claim that they often think about food production and make purchase decisions based on how their food is raised or grown.  Farmers and ranchers strongly agree that consumers don’t know much about their business, and most think consumers have completely inaccurate perceptions of it.

This picture of mutual misunderstanding is drawn by surveys of public opinion sponsored by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and released Thursday at town hall-style meetings in Washington; New York; Davis, California; and Fair Oaks, Indiana.  USFRA is a coalition of major farm and ranch organizations dedicated to improving the image of agriculture.

“Americans have a lot of questions about where their food comes from, how it is raised and if it is good for their health long-term,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

A survey of more than 2,000 consumers showed:

  • 72 percent of consumers say they know nothing or very little about farming or ranching;
  • 69 percent of consumers think about food production at least somewhat often;
  • 70 percent say purchase decisions are affected by how food is grown and raised, with almost three-quarters (72 percent) of Americans saying they think about this topic while purchasing groceries; and
  • 42 percent say the way that food is grown and raised has improved in the last 10 years, while 37 percent say it has gotten worse

Meanwhile, a separate survey of farmers and ranchers showed they think the biggest misconception they need to overcome as an industry is that a few “bad actors” are representative of the entire industry.  Additional findings included:

  • 86 percent of farmers and ranchers said that the average consumer has little to no knowledge about modern farming and ranching;
  • 58 percent of respondents felt consumers have a completely inaccurate perception of farming and ranching; and
  • 80 percent of respondents said that consumers have little to no knowledge about proper care of livestock or poultry.