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USB study polls consumers

There is more insight now on what consumers think about America's farmers thanks to a survey of consumer views on U.S. agriculture conducted with funding from the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff. The results of this survey, called the 2009 National Agricultural Image Survey, have now been released to the public.

"The survey is an important tool that helps the checkoff develop effective messaging to promote soy-based, environmentally safe products and the importance of maintaining animal agriculture," says Vanessa Kummer, a USB director and soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D.

The study, which took place in February, surveyed a random sample of 1,000 registered voters with characteristics representative of the U.S. population. The results provide insights into seven main issues, including: the image of U.S. poultry and livestock producers, a farmer attribute analysis, and consumer attitudes on confinement, food prices, confinement legislation, biobased products and biodiesel. Some of the key findings from the study include:

--Individuals who are somewhat or very favorable toward U.S. poultry and livestock producers rose from 69 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2009.

--Top positive farmer attributes among consumers are that farm families know about protecting air and water quality and that most farmers take good care of their animals.

--Nearly 90 percent of consumers do not see farmers as a major reason for increases in food prices.

--Most consumers agree that it's important to subsidize farmers to ensure a safe food supply.

--After hearing that anti-confinement legislation could force Americans to get their milk, eggs and meat from foreign producers, 78 percent of consumers are against the legislation.

--Consumers see energy security as the most important benefit of biobased products.

"It was great to see from the 2009 agricultural survey that, overall, consumers have a very positive attitude toward agriculture," says Kummer.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.



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