By Shankar Das, PAg, Provincial Agriculture Awareness Specialist, Saskatoon
Since 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture has participated in an omnibus survey to gain insight into consumer perceptions of the agriculture and agri-food industry, assess the impact of efforts to build trust and establish benchmarks for future initiatives.
This year 801 Saskatchewan residents, aged 18 years and older, were surveyed through Insightrix Research.
Results indicated that 89 per cent of respondents have a positive perception of Saskatchewan agriculture, up three per cent from 2017. Results also showed that although respondents trust farmers (88 per cent) and believe society benefits from advancements in agriculture (91 per cent), they were less supportive of agricultural technologies, such as genetic engineering (52 per cent).
When asked if food produced by Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers is safe, 89 per cent of the respondents agreed. In years past, we asked survey respondents if all food in the grocery store was safe and agreement was typically only around 40 per cent. This difference suggests a greater trust in primary production and points to consumer concerns further down the value chain.
A comparison of the results from the Saskatchewan’s 2018 Omnibus Survey and the national data gathered through the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s (CCFI) 2017 Public Trust research reveals some interesting and important contrasts and reinforces the need to continue sharing our food story.
While 78 per cent of Saskatchewan respondents think livestock in Saskatchewan are treated humanely, only 40 per cent of the respondents from the national survey agreed livestock were treated humanely. Similarly, while 70 per cent of Saskatchewan respondents believe that Saskatchewan farmers are good stewards of the environment, only 34 per cent of the national respondents believe that Canadian farmers are good stewards of the environment.
What do these differences suggest? Many agricultural policies and food purchasing decisions are being made nationally and internationally. Therefore, it is important to understand the similarities and differences of the perceptions of the agriculture industry across the country. Given that Saskatchewan agricultural products are used throughout Canada and exported around the world, it is vital that public trust considerations are incorporated into market development and trade
For more information, please review the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s (CCFI) 2017 Public Trust research.
For more information, please read the Ministry of Agriculture’s 2018 Omnibus Survey Report.