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Consumers share concern about farm crisis, food industry

MINNESOTA – The non-profit organization Communicating for Agriculture (CA) released the results of an independent survey of consumers about their views of the farm crisis. The poll was conducted by Strategic Research Group, Eden Prairie, Minn. from 8/3-10, 1999. Respondents were randomly selected from lists of American households.

The results:

• Seventy eight percent of respondents said they personally have found that grocery prices have gone up in the last year, despite farm prices that have dropped to 30-year lows for most crops and commodities. While groceries have gone up between 3 to 5 percent on a national average, 80 percent of respondents said farmers are the least responsible in the food chain for the increases.

• When asked about growing concentration in agricultural production, 59 percent said they believe family farmers are more likely to keep food costs down, compared to large agricultural corporations (12.5 percent) or multi-national corporations (17.5 percent). Only seven percent believe that the growing concentration of farm production, food processing and distribution under ownership of fewer companies will lead to lower grocery costs. Nearly 72 percent believe it will lead to greater profits for those companies.

•Nearly 83 percent of respondents believe family farmers would do a better job of protecting the land and environment; and 78 percent believe family farmers are more likely to be concerned about food safety compared to large agricultural or multi-national corporations.

•When asked if they were a member of Congress and had to vote to provide $6 billion in a farm relief package, 84 percent said “spend the money”. Only 11 percent said they were against spending federal funds CA is a nat’l, non-profit, non-partisan rural org. made up of farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.