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Perception gaps between farmers and consumers

By Denise-Faguy

Nutrien Ltd., a well-known provider of crop inputs and services in the agriculture sector, recently released a study titled "Bridging the Agricultural Perception Divide: A Study by Nutrien." This study offers a deep dive into the contrasting perceptions between farmers and consumers in North America, particularly focusing on sustainability, technological advancements, and land use in agriculture.  

The research engaged 604 crop farmers and 3,003 consumers across the United States and Canada. It evaluated 22 different statements to uncover perception gaps in four primary areas:  

  • environmental stewardship: Responsible management of farmland for sustainability. 

  • industry advancement: Embracing new farming methods to meet the demands of a growing population and changing diets. 

  • social responsibility: Ensuring transparency and fairness in food sourcing and pricing. 

  • societal support for farmers: Enhancing farmer earnings, providing government aid, and facilitating the adoption of innovative farming practices. 

The findings are enlightening, showcasing both significant gaps and potential areas for common ground. 

One of the study's most striking revelations is the vast difference in opinions on environmental stewardship and industry advancement. Farmers generally had a more favorable view of their practices, particularly regarding the responsible use of crop inputs, chemical use and the progress in environmental conservation.  

The study also found closer agreement between farmers and consumers on societal support for farmers, indicating a shared understanding of the challenges faced by the agricultural community.  

The study also sheds light on the concerns of farmers, such as the rising costs of food production and the need for greater consumer awareness about the industry. This is contrasted by the finding that 60% of consumers, including a majority in both the U.S. and Canada, are eager to learn more about agriculture.  

"Addressing the trust gap in agriculture can not only unify farmers and consumers but also ignite the interest and passion of younger generations who seek purpose-driven roles," said Jeff Tarsi, EVP and President of Global Retail, Nutrien.  

"These emerging voices prioritize sustainability, innovation, and global impact, and there’s no mission more critical than that of modern agriculture. As we work to rectify misconceptions and forge a shared vision, we recognize that farmers are unwavering in their dedication to land preservation. Nobody is more motivated to preserve farmland than farmers – and nobody is poised to benefit from those efforts more than consumers. By tapping into this collective dedication, we can inspire the youth to get excited about the potential of joining in this critical endeavor.” 

They emphasize the need to address these perception gaps to not only bring these two groups closer but also to inspire younger generations to engage with and understand the importance of sustainable agriculture. 

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