Canadian farmers evoke consumer confidence

Canadians generally feel good about our food and the farmers who produce it, says a new study recently completed by Ipsos Reid. And although they are concerned about the economy and climate change, they’re confident in the safety of our meat, milk and eggs. Just over half of Canadian non-farming adults (52%) have a positive view of Canadian agriculture, up from 42 per cent in 2006, the last time this study was completed. Consumers were most likely to indicate they had a favourable impression of farmers (50%) compared to environmental groups (32%), animal activists (21%) and  government agencies related to food and farming (18%).

Weather, climate change and economic challenges are the most top of mind issues with Canadians when asked about agriculture. In fact, of the top ten issues mentioned, nine are somehow related to the economy.

But the most important food and farming issue to most Canadians personally is the safety of food (57%), followed by the care and treatment of farm animals, which was a distant second at 14%. Overwhelmingly, despite the problems that made headlines in 2008, Canadians also feel strongly that our meat,milk and eggs are safe: 94% for eggs, 92% for milk and 89% for meat.

When asked about environmental issues, 52% of respondents felt that farmers were believable spokespeople – higher than the 37% for environmental crusader Al Gore but behind David Suzuki, who had a believability rating of 63%.

What’s interesting as well is where Canadians are getting their information from. Even though there’s plenty of discussion these days about the demise of traditional media, 71% of respondents said television was their principal source of information about food safety, the environment and animal welfare. This was followed by newspapers at 57% (which actually saw an increase from its 2006 rate of 33%), internet (43%) and radio (40%).

The survey was conducted in February 2009 for the Ontario Farm Animal Council using Ipsos Reid’s Online Household Panel of over 200,000 Canadians. Just under 1200 respondents participated; in order to qualify for the study, they could not have a household member directly involved in agriculture.

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