- Category: News
- Published: Monday, 10 February 2014 16:24
- Written by Larry Lewis
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Public Opinion Poll: Utahns Think Agriculture is Important to State's Future
According to a public opinion survey of 400 residents who live along the Wasatch Front and in Cache Valley, agriculture is important to the future of the State of Utah. Nearly 95 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that agriculture in important to the state’s future. Additionally, most people (84%) say they believe farmers and ranchers are good stewards of the land. Nearly 80 percent agree that livestock grazing on public land is acceptable, and 35 percent of those surveyed agree wolves should be allowed to roam free, even though they attack livestock.
Several other questions in the survey asked respondents the importance of various factors when shopping for food.
• 97% believe freshness is important or very important
• 85% said nutritional value is important or very important
• 78% feel price is important or very important
• 70% believe location of the store is important or very important
• 53% indicated that locally grown is an important or very important consideration
• 26% said brand name is important or very important
• 20% feel organically grown is important or very important.
"It is interesting to note that 97 percent of survey respondents rated freshness as an important or very important factor, but only 53 percent of the same respondents consider locally grown important, said Jed Christenson, director of marketing, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF). “Locally grown produce is the essence of freshness,” he said. “Besides the economic benefits of buying locally grown and manufactured foods, consumers enjoy fresh, wholesome high quality products that are second to none. Environmentally, we reduce our carbon footprint as products don’t have to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, to get to our table.”
While nearly 80 percent of survey participants shop at a farmers market or roadside stand at least once during a typical growing season, the largest percentage (30%) go once or twice a year. About 17 percent attend at least weekly, and 20 percent of those asked never shop at farmers markets or roadside stands. Conversely, when asked how often they eat out at restaurants or get fast food, 56 percent eat out at least once a week.
When asked about protecting farmland from development, 69 percent of those surveyed said they agree or strongly agree that a small portion of the existing sales tax on food should be used to protect Utah farmland. Additionally, nearly 66 percent agree or strongly agree that the Utah Legislature should put taxpayer dollars into a fund to protect local farmland.
When asked if continued development of farmland into subdivisions and shopping centers will lead to increase dependence on foreign food, nearly 73 percent agree or strongly agree that it will.
The survey was conducted by NSON Opinion Strategy in mid-December with residents of Cache, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties. The survey has a 4.9 percent margin of error. The poll is part of the UDAF’s effort to help Utahns understand where their food comes from, and what it takes to get food from the farm to the table.
Agriculture’s Impacts on Utah’s Economy
According to a study from Utah State University in 2011, Utah agriculture remains an important economic engine to the State of Utah. The agricultural processing and production sectors together account for $17.5 billion in total economic output in Utah, after adjusting for multiplier effects. The two agriculture sectors also account for about 78,000 jobs and income of approximately $2.7 billion, and 14.1 percent of total state output, which represents a 1.4 percent growth rate since 2008.
The bulk of processing jobs are located in urbanized metropolitan statistical areas.
Food manufacturing accounts for about 15% of all manufacturing jobs in the state.
The average wage rate in processing agricultural products is over $18/hour.
Agricultural production and processing grew by 15.1 percent from 2008 to 2011. Agriculture cash receipts, statewide, were up to about $1.6 billion in 2011.
See the poll results from 2011 here.
posted: February 19, 2014