Farmers and ranchers have long acted as stewards of the environment, with the majority taking care of the land, air and water to the best of their abilities and current knowledge. However, agriculture has come under attack on a variety of fronts from people with an alternative agenda to folks who are unknowledgeable when it comes to agriculture. Considering all the misinformation you can find out there, it’s nice to know that the people of The Sunshine State strongly believe that Florida farmers protect the state’s environment and water resources.
According to a survey conducted by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education, residents had great faith in Florida’s farmers. According to the survey’s results, 88% of the public felt that farmers will be concerned about water when making decisions and 80% agreed that farmers conserve water. As for land, 74% believed that farming protects the environment and 75% felt that farming preserved open spaces. Of course, not all perceptions were positive. For instance, a little more than half of the respondents—54%—felt that it was important to watch farmers closely to ensure they don’t take advantage of water resources. Such notions are what happen when a few bad apples give the entire ag industry and farming profession a bad reputation.
While the general public showed great measures of trust in Florida farmers, the policymakers also surveyed for the research—local government officials like commissioners, managers, mayors and clerks—showed much less. For instance, only 36% felt that sound principles seem to guide farmers’ behaviors when it comes to water usage and that farmers can be relied upon to keep their promises when it comes to water use.
See all the results here. While local government officials should maybe make a few more trips out to local farms for educational purposes, it’s heartening to see that the general public has confidence in agriculture producers.