Canadian love affair with food and farming heating up

A new survey shows that our love affair with food and farming in Canada is intensifying.

Personally I’ve long been an advocate but now some new Ipsos Reid numbers are showing that I’m not alone – the Canadian public’s positive perceptions of agriculture are on the rise.

More than half – 57 percent – of Canadians surveyed have a positive impression of agriculture in this country, a figure that has risen 16 per cent since the survey was first conducted four years ago.

In 2006, only 41 per cent of Canadians had a positive impression of Canadian agriculture and 52 per cent reported a positive impression in 2009.

Crystal Mackay, Executive Director of AGCare and the Ontario Farm Animal Council, which commissioned the study, attributes this to the hard work of Canadian farmers to talk to consumers about food and farming.

“Farmers have really been going the extra mile to open their proverbial barn doors these past few years to talk about what they do and why,” she says. “These poll results reflect those efforts and demonstrates that the Canadian public appreciates having conversations with the people who grow their food.”

Ontario showed some of the strongest gains in overall positive impressions. Positive perceptions in this province jumped 10 per cent from 56 per cent in 2009 to 66 per cent in 2010.

Only nine per cent of Ontarians reported a negative image of Canadian farming in 2010, compared to 21 per cent in 2006.

For Stonaleen Farms‘ Stewart Skinner, who raises hogs with his family near Listowel, hearing the survey results is a breath of fresh air for farmers who are often the target of negativity by activist groups.

“To know that the majority of Canadians trust us and think that we’re doing a good job producing food is a great honour,” he says. “We know we’re doing our best to protect the environment and produce healthy and safe food and these results are very inspiring.”

You can learn more about Stewart and his family farm on his blog or by following him on Twitter at @modernfarmer.

The survey also showed that farmers enjoy a high rate of public credibility on issues related to food and farming, such as animal welfare. Ranked second only to veterinarians, farmers jumped eight points to 67 per cent from 59 per cent a year earlier.

“Farmers have always been credible and trusted spokespeople about food and farming as they’re the ones directly involved with raising animals and growing crops every day,” says Mackay. “This study shows there’s a real opportunity for farmers to keep the open and honest dialogue going about how their food is grown with everyone who eats, so we can continue to build that sense of trust and pride in Canadian farming.”

The survey was conducted as part of the Ipsos Reid Online Express Omnibus with Canadians aged 18 and over from November 26th to November 28th, 2010. Results are considered to be representative of the Canadian population.

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