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Study finds and quantifies perception gap between growers and consumers

Nutrien released a study titled: Bridging the Agricultural Perception Divide. This research details and quantifies the perception gaps between farmers and consumers in North America on issues such as sustainability, technology, and land usage; it also indicates there is some common ground and opportunities for bridge-building.

"Farmers and consumers agree agriculture has the greatest opportunity to influence a sustainable future - more so than any other industry. This alignment is incredibly promising and provides the foundation for us to build common understanding," said Ken Seitz, President and CEO of Nutrien. "The world is asking a lot of our farmers, and it is incumbent on all of us to support them in safely and sustainably feeding the future."

The study, which was conducted among 604 crop farmers and 3,003 consumers in the US and Canada, evaluated 22 statements, uncovering four key areas where perceptions varied the most:

  • Environmental Stewardship: Sustainable care of agricultural land
  • Industry Advancement: Innovation and adoption of modern farming techniques to support a growing population and evolving dietary needs
  • Social Responsibility: Fair and transparent food sources and pricing
  • Societal Support for Farmers: Farmer income, government support, and assistance with new farming practices

The findings revealed the largest perception gaps between farmers and consumers are around topics related to Environmental Stewardship and Industry Advancement. For example, farmers were significantly more likely to agree with statements related to the responsible use of crop inputs, chemical use, environmental progress, farming careers, and soil quality. However, topics related to Societal Support for Farmers reveal much closer agreement. The study also finds that younger consumers have the lowest interest and trust in agriculture.

When farmers were asked about the top issues affecting the agriculture industry today, their responses included the rising cost of growing food, followed by a desire for consumers to have more knowledge about the industry, and concerns around misinformation about where food comes from and how it is produced. However, 60 percent of consumers want to learn more about agriculture, including two-thirds of Canadians and more than half of US respondents.

"Addressing the trust gap in agriculture can not only unify farmers and consumers but also ignite the interest and passion of younger generations who seek purpose-driven roles," said Jeff Tarsi, EVP and President of Global Retail, Nutrien. "These emerging voices prioritize sustainability, innovation, and global impact, and there's no mission more critical than that of modern agriculture. As we work to rectify misconceptions and forge a shared vision, we recognize that farmers are unwavering in their dedication to land preservation. Nobody is more motivated to preserve farmland than farmers – and nobody is poised to benefit from those efforts more than consumers. By tapping into this collective dedication, we can inspire the youth to get excited about the potential of joining in this critical endeavor."

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