Should politicians talk agriculture on the urban campaign trail?

An estimated 2,000 consumers visited Veldale Farms near Woodstock, Ontario, for Breakfast on the Farm in June 2016.

City dwellers may not have much connection to the farm these days but there’s growing evidence that they value the agri-food industry’s ability to produce high-quality, safe food and create jobs.

That’s the conclusion of an opinion poll commissioned by Grassroots Public Affairs.

The survey of 676 residents in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) indicates Ontario’s agriculture industry enjoys a strong level of trust in the GTA with more than 60 percent of respondents indicating confidence in the sector’s ability to produce high-quality, safe food. This level of support is similar to findings from the Canadian Centre For Food Integrity’s 2016 public trust research.

The survey also indicates that public trust grows when people have an the opportunity to visit a farm, says Peter Seemann, principal of Grassroots Public Affairs who notes that it’s important for farmers to tell the story of how and why they farm to urban consumers.

The survey also shows a surprising level of urban awareness of the agri-food sector’s economic strength, importance and ability to create jobs. The poll indicates that 64 percent of respondents believe that the agri-food industry has the ability to grow employment.

Read highlights from the GTA public opinion on ag poll here.

With an Ontario election set for June 2018, Seemann is hoping the survey results catch the attention of provincial politicians as the race heats up.

In this interview, he tells RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin that polls like this show urban voters really do care about agriculture and food and politicians should be talking about agri-food along the entire campaign trail, not only on the roads that lead to rural Ontario.

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