Ohioans continue to support farmers

In general, Ohioans continue to feel positive about Ohio agriculture, according to a recent survey conducted by The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In fact, 87 percent of Ohioans agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Overall, farming positively contributes to the quality of life in Ohio.”

Although the survey reveals some positive statements about Ohio agriculture, many believe that farmers must still be mindful of their duty.

“That’s a high level of support, but the agriculture community must still work to maintain that high level of confidence,” said Jeff Sharp, associate professor in rural sociology who oversaw the completion of this survey.

The biannual survey was mailed to 3,500 randomly selected Ohioans. The primary objective was to evaluate Ohioans’ attitudes about a variety of current food, farming and environmental topics. The survey received a response rate over 48 percent.

The survey also revealed that 84 percent agreed or strongly agreed that Ohio’s economy will suffer if the state continues to lose farmers. This shows that Ohioans realize the importance of farmers to the state’s economy. Ohio ranks 16th in the U.S with a market value of $4.3 billion in agriculture production.

Sixty percent of the respondents agreed with the statement: “I trust Ohio farmers to protect the environment.” Thirty percent answered undecided, and 10 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement.

As I discussed in my last blog, there are sets of rules being debated by lawmakers that would relax EPA restrictions on several industries including agriculture. Twenty-three percent of Ohioans believe that environmental protection laws regulating farming are too strict, and 59 percent were undecided.

This indicates that there is a large portion of Ohioans who don’t have sufficient information to determine whether or not those laws are too strict. And this tells farmers that they need to take a more proactive approach in educating Ohioans about their business and how those laws affect their farms.

There is also an increasing number of Ohioans who have concern for the future of farming. Sixty-three percent were very concerned that there is a loss of farmland due to urban growth and 62 percent were very concerned about a loss of family farms.

Overall, Ohioans’ opinions about Ohio farming are positive and will remain that way as long as, according to Sharp, “farmers continue to be good neighbors and environmental stewards.”

How else does farming positively contribute to the quality of life in Ohio? Let me know your thoughts.

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