Bridging the Agriculture Perception Divide
Why We Must All Come Together to Feed the World
A new Nutrien study shows farmers and consumers differ on key agricultural issues. Find out why this matters and how we can bridge the divide.
The Four Areas of Perception Gap
Drawing on detailed survey data collected in Spring 2023 from 604 crop farmers and 3,003 consumers in North America, Nutrien’s study uncovered four areas of critical agricultural issues where farmers and the consumers they serve have differing perceptions.
How farmers manage greenhouse gas emissions, soil quality, responsible crop inputs, and overall environmental protection.
Environmental impact drives a large element of public trust in the agriculture industry. Our study found that the degree to which Environmental Stewardship has the ability to shift consumer trust in the agricultural industry is high. However, currently this is where there is the largest overall divide.
Farmers are good stewards of the environment.
Farmers are improving soil quality.
Farmers use crop inputs responsibly.
Negative Perceptions of the Agriculture Industry
The top negative sentiments that consumers associate with the agriculture industry are food safety – including chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – and environmental impacts.
How well do farmers keep up with the pace of technology and evolving consumer diets, engage with GMOs, build appealing careers, protect labor and human rights, and more.
Industry advancement also greatly influences public trust. Sustainability practices, innovation and efficiency, and career desirability are the areas where the largest perception gaps exist between consumers and farmers.
The industry is adopting innovative practices to be more efficient.
The industry is evolving practices to sustainably feed a growing population.
Industry Word Associations
This shows the gap in how consumers and farmers perceive certain aspects of the industry. For example, most farmers believe the industry is innovative, modern, and sustainable, but less than 3 in 10 consumers agree.
Has farming degraded the environment, how much responsibility do farmers have to keep food prices low, and issues around organic food and food transparency.
While social responsibility bears less weight on public trust compared to environmental stewardship and industry advancement, the perception gap remains significant with major gaps existing around the topics of organic food, environmental impact of farming, and the responsibility of farmers to keep food prices down.
Farming today is worse for the environment than it was 10 years ago.
The industry should be more transparent about where food comes from.
Farmers have a responsibility to keep food prices down.
Why Consumers Believe Agriculture is on the Wrong Track
For consumers who voiced concern that agriculture is on the wrong track, the top reasons why were social responsibility issues such as food safety concerns and environmental impact.
Support For Farmers
Do farmers enjoy strong incomes, are government subsidies adequate, is there fair competition, and support for new farming practices.
If there’s one area of common ground among farmers and consumers, it’s support for farmers – in terms of the current situation and the imperative to do more. This topic holds a smaller impact on overall public trust and it’s also where the perception gap between farmers and consumers is smallest, a signal of relative agreement among both groups. There are still disparate views around the sufficiency of industry competition, but both groups see most things similarly.
The industry receives an adequate amount of government subsidies (support).
Farmers are provided adequate support to adopt new farming practices.
There is not enough competition in the industry.
Key Issues Affecting Agriculture and Food Systems
There are areas in which consumers and farmers agree such as the rising cost of food, the importance of protecting farmland resources, and supporting new, young farmers.