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The “Farm Families of Mississippi” campaign, aimed at enhancing the image of the state’s farmers with an agriculturally-unaware public, had "a very successful" initial effort, says David Waide, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, which spearheaded the program. "It “succeeded beyond our expectations,” he says.
Survey shows campaign's success
In a public opinion survey of 400 randomly-selected Mississippi residents in June 2010, four months after campaign, 89 percent had a favorable opinion of Mississippi farmers.
Food produced in America is safer than foreign-produced food, 85 percent agreed; 73 percent agreed that most farms in Mississippi are family farms; 88 percent agreed that farmers are good stewards of the environment; and 79 percent agreed that Mississippi farmers treat their animals and livestock properly.
Fifty-three percent of the survey participants recalled seeing or hearing ads promoting Mississippi agriculture and farmers, which Gibson says, is “a high success rate, given that recall for specific message campaigns is often 30 percent or less.”
Donald Gant says the image campaign helps to fill a knowledge/perception gap between urban residents and farmers.
“In an earlier era, we all were closely connected — farm folks and town folks — but that’s not the case any more. A lot of town folks just don’t know anything about agriculture or its importance to their lives. A lot of times, they’re given unfair and downright untruthful perceptions by anti-agriculture groups.”
David Waide told of a recent poll by a Jackson newspaper as to whether agricultural subsidies should be eliminated to help reduce the budget.
“Nothing irks me more than to hear someone say, ‘I can’t believe they pay farmers to farm,’” he says. “Farmers don’t receive subsidies — those who are the ultimate recipient of the subsidies are American consumers, who enjoy the lowest food costs of any developed nation, thanks to the outstanding productivity of our farmers.”