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CFA uses AI to ‘assess public attitudes’

CFA uses AI to ‘assess public attitudes’

The project monitored Canadians’ interactions online to see how they view ag


By Jonathan Martin
Staff Writer


The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) hired a market research firm to monitor more than 200,000 Canadians’ social media accounts to learn how they feel about farming.

Advanced Symbolics, an Ottawa-based research firm that uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to study what Canadians are discussing online, has been assessing public attitudes about Canada’s agri-food sector since last fall.

CFA hired the firm as part of its national Producing Prosperity in Canada campaign, which aims to “raise awareness about the strategic importance of Canada’s agri-food industry.”  

The research is ongoing but CFA has enough data to see that Canadians from coast-to-coast generally support the sector, the organization said a Friday release. However, the public lacks awareness of the industry’s potential. CFA attributes this gap in knowledge to urbanization.

CFA will use the data to engage political candidates “of all stripes” in ag-related policy issues leading up to the 2019 federal election.

“We understand that those of us in the industry need to collaborate and more effectively sell the story of agriculture to the entire country,” said Errol Halkai, CFA’s executive director, in the release. “It’s good to know that a good number of Canadians are clearly behind us; now we just need the politicians to seize this opportunity.”

Canadians believe agriculture can lead to economic growth for Canada, the study found. They also have a “very favourable” opinion that the country’s agricultural processing sector can grow the national economy.

While the price of food is important, more Canadians prioritize quality when it comes to choosing which foods to purchase. Consumers have “overwhelming support” for food grown and processed in Canada over imported foods, CFA reported.

Canadians believe that ag leads to carbon emissions but also think that the industry can help lower them, Advanced Symbolics determined.

Overall, support for the industry outweighs opposition to it by a 2-1 margin, the data shows.

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