Public Attitudes Survey Shows Near Unanimous Support For Colorado Agriculture

Published online: Feb 28, 2023 Articles Colorado Department of Agriculture
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Nearly all Coloradans want to support our state’s agricultural industry, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and Colorado State University (CSU).

The survey shows 98 percent of respondents agreed that Colorado's food and ag industry is important to the state's future economic development; that the presence of ranches, farms, and agriculture is important to the quality of life in Colorado; and that it is important to maintain land and water in Colorado for agricultural purposes.  

Beginning in 1996 and approximately every five years since, CDA and CSU have partnered to conduct the Public Attitudes About Colorado Agriculture survey. This year’s findings found public support for Colorado's agriculture industry continues to be exceptionally strong. 

“This survey shows Coloradans want to buy local products and that they care about where their food comes from. This is an incredible opportunity for Colorado agriculture to showcase the diversity of production and people who grow and raise our food and to highlight Colorado ag’s commitment to soil, water and climate stewardship and economic resilience,” said Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg. “Favorable public attitude toward agriculture is crucial to the longer-term sustainability of Colorado's food and ag industry and consumer awareness will help us build new local and regional markets for Colorado producers looking to reach their neighbors.”

According to the survey, more than 90 percent of Coloradans put agriculture in their top three most important ways Colorado can use its water and 98 percent believe Colorado’s land and water resources should be used to support efforts to increase food security. 

Colorado agriculture is remarkable in its grit and effectiveness when cultivating innovation and wisely stewarding our natural resources. The implications of the survey results are clear – Coloradans support agriculture,” said James Pritchett, Dean of CSU College of Agricultural Sciences. “Investing in agricultural sciences and education catalyzes farmer and rancher prosperity and ensures a robust food system for the security of Colorado’s citizens. We need an agriculture that is consumer-responsive and climate-resilient. Colorado State University is proud to partner in this survey and excited to invest in the future of Colorado agriculture.”

The 2022 survey, completed this past fall by independent researcher ETC Institute, surveyed more than 1,100 Coloradans. Findings show Coloradans overwhelmingly support developing strong local food systems (96 percent) and using public funding to protect soil and water resources (84 percent). Additionally, 83 percent of Coloradans reported that knowing a food product was grown or raised in Colorado was likely to influence their purchasing decision when shopping or dining out. 

“We understand the importance of agriculture in the state and to all our communities,” said Kathay Rennels, CSU’s Vice President for Engagement and Extension. “Understanding public attitudes, CSU Extension can identify ways we can better support individuals locally including topics like food safety, nutrition and land use, as well as connecting to CSU’s latest research and resources.”

Equally important, 95 percent of respondents indicated that food produced by Colorado's farmers and ranchers is almost always or usually safe and two of every three respondents believed agriculture is an industry that can help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“Public support for agriculture is more important than ever, especially as agriculture comes under pressure on water use issues all across the West and at the same time is being challenged to provide solutions to climate change,” said Tom Lipetzky, CDA’s Markets Division Director. “Our farmers and ranchers have led efforts to protect the land and resources they manage and the survey shows Coloradans are supportive of those efforts.”

Where possible, the survey results also include a trend analysis of 2022 answers compared with the 2016 responses. For instance, more respondents in 2022 raise or grow their own food than did in 2016.  

The findings from the survey help CDA and other agricultural stakeholders understand public perceptions of agriculture in Colorado and provide insights into new and emerging topics. The survey is also intended to help the State and its partners identify topics where increased public engagement could be beneficial to the agricultural industry. 

The full report can be found at ag.colorado.gov/markets