Ag United: Survey shows South Dakotans understand importance of agriculture
December 30, 2010
SIOUX FALLS, SD – More than 90 percent of South Dakotans believe that the state’s farmers can be trusted to produce safe food in an environmentally-friendly way, according to the results of a new survey released Dec. 23. South Dakotans also understand the importance of agriculture and livestock production to the state’s economy, with 92 percent of respondents ranking agriculture as the most important, or very important industry to the state’s economy. Eight-six percent also ranked livestock production as very important to South Dakota’s economy.
Four hundred registered South Dakota voters completed a telephone survey in November designed to measure attitudes toward agriculture, livestock production and farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. The survey was conducted for Ag United for South Dakota by Barry Zeplowitz Associates and has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent at a 95 percent probability.
“The survey results show the trust that South Dakotans place in our state’s farmers and ranchers, even as people are growing less familiar with specific agriculture or livestock practices,” said Steve Dick, executive director of Ag United for South Dakota. “Farmers and ranchers have earned this trust through a commitment to producing a safe food supply while protecting the environment and providing top-quality care for animals.”
An overwhelming 97 percent of respondents said they have no problem consuming milk, meat and eggs if they know farm animals are raised and cared for in a reasonable manner. Only 2 percent disagreed, which is less than the 5 percent of respondents who identified themselves as vegetarian or vegan. In addition, 82 percent agreed that farmers would not sell food grown or raised through modern farming techniques that they would not feed their own families.
South Dakotans also recognized the potential negative impact to local economies and communities if livestock production were limited. About 70 percent of respondents said it would be extremely or somewhat damaging to jobs, local tax revenues and consumer food costs if livestock production were not allowed to continue. This recognition of the importance of livestock production is remarkable, as only 55 percent of respondents said they were familiar with the livestock industry.