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Middling support for helping farmers adopt sustainable practices

Americans agree that federal aid to farmers during a disaster is important. They are less likely to support federal assistance to help producers adopt sustainable farming practices, according to the quarterly Gardiner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey.

The idea finished in the middle of the pack of six possible ways for the government to support agriculture. The concept already is in use in some USDA working lands programs and has been mentioned as an inducement to growers in combating climate change.

Disaster aid was the hands-down winner in the Gardiner survey of 1,000 adults, said three agricultural economists writing at the farmdoc daily blog. Eight of every 10 respondents backed disaster relief.

Nearly three out of four supported crop insurance funding. And seven out of 10 said it was appropriate to provide support when farmers adopt sustainable farming practices. In fourth place, with 57%, was “to provide income to farmers,” followed by “during agricultural trade or export restrictions,” with 50%, and “when crop prices are considered too low,” with 50%.

“Across political ideologies, there seems to be relatively high rates of agreement on farm support mechanisms,” said the economists. “In general, both conservatives and liberals were in favor of support mechanisms at slightly higher rates compared to moderates. An exception to this was financial assistance for farmers who adopt sustainable production practices, which was supported most highly by liberals (81.6%), then moderates (68.7%), and finally conservatives (60.1%).”

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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