America Salutes the Farmer

Politics. By now, with a little over a month before the Election Day, we may be tiring of all the political banter surrounding us. We may like one candidate and object to the other, or dislike all of the options. Some may even prefer to bury their heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. With a concern over the election of just who will become the new commander-in-chief, it is more important than ever that our congressional delegations from rural states have backgrounds that support agriculture.

Agriculture and crop insurance are very politically charged issues.   Look how long it took to get the 2014 Farm Bill into action and the attacks waged on crop insurance from different fronts on Capitol Hill. Discussions on the 2018 Farm Bill will begin sooner than we think. Nearly every ag publication we read tells us that, as a whole, the American public doesn’t understand agriculture and that farmers and ranchers need to be better at telling our story.

Although they may not fully understand it, a survey, commissioned by National Crop Insurance Services and conducted by North Star Opinion Research, reveals a positive public perception of agriculture and crop insurance in America. This particular survey was conducted in April of 2016 with 1,000 registered voters interviewed by telephone with live interviewers. Quotas were set for state, gender, race, and age to reflect past voter turnout with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

When asked if funding for programs that help farms and farmers is important, more than half feel that it is very important and another third think that it is somewhat important. Only 7% of those surveyed replied that it was not too important or not important at all. This positive response reflects bipartisan support as the consistent results come across the board from Republicans, Independents and Democrats. The survey’s findings also show strong favorable and bipartisan views of farmers as a group (86%).

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Discounted crop insurance is supported by a 79% to 17 % margin. Presented with arguments for and against federal crop assistance for farmers, voters still say it is appropriate to help farmers by a two to one margin. 81% of voters agree that a strong farming industry is critical to national security. They also think farmers and taxpayers are better served by insurance delivered by the private sector, rather than the federal government, by a more than 20 point margin (54 to 33%). More than two-thirds of voters agree that farmer’s should share in the cost of the programs that protect them, and that farmers pay too much or the right amount for crop insurance. Similarly voter’s think the amount of loss sustained before payments are made is about right.

These overall positive results were honestly somewhat of a shock to me. On any given day, I don’t have to look very hard to see media that paints the agriculture industry in a negative light. There are numerous blogs, columns, Facebook pages, special interest groups, etc., whose main goal is to discredit the agriculture industry, the safety of our products, and the wellbeing of our livestock. This poll is reassuring to me in that the average American still has a high level of approval for farmers and the programs available to us that help ensure a safe, quality food supply. As the election nears and Farm Bill discussions begin, it is important to remind our congressional leaders of these findings. Voters believe that crop insurance and agriculture programs have a positive impact on America. This gives us something to build upon in this election year and the time leading up to the creation of a new farm bill, whenever it is enacted. The public’s bipartisan support is there and it is up to us to make that support be heard!

Image Credit: Julian Carvajal

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