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Natural Foods Merchandiser

New Survey Shows Americans Support Family Farms, Organic Agriculture

The majority of Americans support family farms and organic agriculture, according to a recent consumer opinion poll conducted by Roper Public Affairs on behalf of Organic Valley Family of Farms. The survey found that Americans, by a margin of 71 percent to 15 percent, believe family farms are more likely to care about food safety than large-scale industrial farms.

The poll also indicated that seven in 10 Americans are at least moderately concerned about the health risks posed by pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals used in the production of nonorganic foods. The best news for the organics industry was that two-thirds of Americans said they would pay more for organically produced foods.

Several activists and politicians commented in support of the survey results, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance; Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said, "Some of the best stewards of the land and the environment are America's family farmers."

The survey also showed widespread concern (82 percent of participants) with the decline in the number of family farms, which has fallen from 7 million in the 1930s to about 2 million today.

Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, was heartened by the survey results but said the key is to find a way to put those consumer sentiments into action. "This is the kind of signpost that is indicative that our message is beginning to gain traction," Scowcroft said. "The poll identifies the depth of consumer concern, but that concern needs to be translated into dollars and cents for American farmers."

Pointing to the success of the certified organic food label in generating results, Scowcroft suggested that the same level of enforcement and transparency applied to organic labeling should back the myriad eco-labels currently used on foods.

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