(Posted Tue. Mar 27th, 2012)
Mar. 27: Washington policy makers and influencers continue to hold family farmers in high regard, according to focus group research conducted for the National Corn Growers Association last week. The Washington-based focus group participants provided valuable insight into federal legislative and regulatory perspectives that will guide improvements and updates made to the advertisements placed there this summer through the Corn Farmers Coalition program.
“Awareness of how much farmers contribute to the national economy is growing in Washington,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “As the Corn Farmers Coalition enters its fourth year, we are seeing positive movement, with this focus group demonstrating a much better understanding of the prevalence of family farms and of the role that they play in building a successful future for our industry. This important shift in attitudes and perception is due, in large part, to the incredible work done in the first three years of this grower-driven campaign.”
The research also showed that federal policy makers, and those who influence them, recognize the current trend toward successful farming operations with many noting that it is a great time to be a corn grower. While recognition that agriculture is currently flourishing in the United States is on the rise, many also indicated a sense that, in large part, farmer’s futures remain at risk because of the high costs associated with farming.
“Sure, family farms and the images they conjure up pull at your heartstrings,” one participant explained. “But, they do more than make us feel nostalgic. They are small independent businesses that stimulate the heartland.”
In general, the group understood farmers contribute to the economy, with an emphasis on their overall productive. Some went so far as to say agriculture likely played a key role in propping up the economy during the recent recession.
Through the research, NCGA found that significant progress still needs to be made in explaining environmental improvements and the increased sustainability of the industry. Similarly, the groups still demonstrated, in large part, a lack of awareness to decreases in farm program funding that have coincided with rising marketplace success.
Despite the campaign’s success in raising awareness of the role family farming plays in American agriculture, a few group members remained skeptical of the continued existence of this model and expressed disbelief upon learning that 90 percent of the corn grown in American does actually come from family-owned farms.
Corn Farmers Coalition organizers are currently examining ways to target continued areas of weakness and improve the overall campaign prior to its fourth summer launch in June of this year.