Northeast: New Yorkers trust their dairy farmer neighbors

New York consumers have a high level of trust in New York dairy farmers to produce a safe, healthy and abundant supply of food, according to a recent survey.

The consumer survey, conducted in spring 2009 by The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, with grant support from the New York Center for Dairy Excellence, surveyed over 600 New York state residents living within six miles of an active dairy farm in six farming communities.

Key consumer attitudes identified by the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition survey are:

The vast majority of respondents (85%) have a very favorable impression of dairy farming in New York. Agricultural benefits were cited as the main reason for their favorable impression by 27% of respondents. “It’s good to know that the products we buy are close to home,” and “It is an important economic resource,” are some of the comments from respondents.

Between 85% and 96% of respondents agree that dairy farms have a very positive impact on New York and provide residents with many benefits. Over 50% of respondents cite the “availability of local products” as the greatest benefit of dairy farming in New York.

Respondents most often cite availability of local products, providing milk and other dairy products to the community, and support for the local economy as the primary benefits of dairy farming in New York State. Secondary benefits identified by respondents were: add to the quality of life in Upstate New York, create jobs, environmental stewardship, and help young farmers get started in agriculture.

Farmers are a trusted source for information. Nearly half of respondents (46%) view dairy farmers as the most preferred/effective vehicle for communicating messages about dairy farming in New York, followed by agriculture and markets representatives, dairy farm organizations, veterinarians and county extension educators.

The impact of the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition’s campaign messages, which included billboards and public service announcements featuring farmers, as measured by the survey, is:

The majority of respondents (77%-87%) who have seen the TV ads and billboards about dairy farming in New York consider them to be very believable.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents who saw these TV ads and billboards about dairy farming also indicate that they result in a much more favorable image of dairy farming in New York for them.

Surveyed communities included Auburn/Cayuga County, Avon/Batavia, Rochester/Ontario County, Black River/Watertown, Geneva and Albany/Saratoga. A total of 647 online interviews were completed, lasting approximately 10-15 minutes each. NYAAC has received funding from the United Soybean Board to conduct this survey again in 2010.

The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition is a farmer founded and funded organization and exists to reconnect the public with animal agriculture by facilitating: media engagement, public education, and interaction between industry stakeholders. Visit the Coalition’s Web site at for more information.