The Big Picture: Farmers are important! But why?

WHAT NON-FARMERS ARE SAYING ABOUT FARMING

farmers feed cities set out to discover what non-farmers think about farming and the results are really positive for Ontario’s farmers. According to their survey of 807 randomly selected Ontarians, farming is important to the province’s wellbeing (99 percent) including our economic (73 percent strongly agree), social (56 percent strongly agree) and physical health (56 percent strongly agree).

Unfortunately, overwhelming support doesn’t come with overwhelming knowledge. More than half of the Toronto area respondents (57 percent) noted very little or no knowledge of farming – with almost 20 percent admitting to having no knowledge at all.

Many of the respondents did recognize the Farmers Feed Cities brand – a very encouraging result for the campaign. The campaign was most familiar to urbanites in southwestern Ontario (57 percent awareness) while those in Toronto had a much lower familiarity rating (37 percent).

Farmers Feed Cities sees this as a great opportunity to promote agriculture to the masses. Despite the lack of farming knowledge among Ontarians, the survey found that respondents were enthusiastic about supporting the Farmers Feed Cities campaign (60 percent) – a campaign committed to ensuring a sustainable future for farmers in Ontario.

The first step in educating Ontario will come as a result of the survey. Major media outlets across the province including CHCH, City TV and Rogers Television have planned educational segments on farms that will take place over the next few weeks.

The rest will be up to the Farmers Feed Cities campaign to continue the promotion throughout the year online, through social media and at events across the province where families interested in farming and local food gather like the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and farmers markets.

This survey will be updated annually to measure the impact the campaign – along with other awareness efforts initiated by agricultural organizations – is having on the knowledge base of the general public.

The Farmers Feed Cities campaign was developed in 2005 and is an initiative of Ontario Grains & Oilseeds – a coalition of Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Bean Producers’ Marketing Board, Ontario Canola Growers’ Association, Ontario Coloured Bean Growers’ Association and Seed Corn Growers of Ontario. Collectively these groups represent more than 28,000 farmers. •