Do neighbors grumble about your farming practices when you're out of earshot? Those who had a chance to anonymously register their complaints recently in a New York State survey didn't—much.
This past spring, the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, with grant support from the New York Center for Dairy Excellence, surveyed more than 600 state residents living within six miles of an active dairy farm in six farming communities. On the whole, respondents recorded a high level of trust in "their” dairy farmers to produce a safe, healthy and abundant supply of food.
Key consumer attitudes identified in the survey include:
- Most respondents (85%) have a very favorable impression of dairy farming in New York.
- Between 85% and 96% agree that dairy farms have a positive impact on the state and provide residents with many benefits. More than half cite the "availability of local products” as the top benefit.
- Support for the local economy is frequently cited as a primary benefit. Secondary benefits include adding to the quality of life, creating jobs, practicing environmental stewardship and helping young farmers get started.
- Nearly half view dairy farmers as the most effective vehicle for communicating messages about dairy farming in New York.
A billboard and television campaign featuring New York State farmers preceded the survey. More than three-quarters of participants who had seen the ads considered them to be believable. Almost as many said the campaign helped improve their image of dairy farming in the state.