U.S. Farm Bill Polls

tractor in field

The US Farm Bill talks are now starting and a recent poll by Morning Consult (Walton Family Foundation) shows that voters support sustainable farming practices. Most Americans understand that keeping farming profitable is important for our national security but they also want healthy food and water and they support farming practices that make agriculture sustainable.

Key summary points from this poll: “Nearly 90% of Americans believe that it is important to update and encourage sustainable farming practices that support clean water and healthy, productive soil." “Roughly 80% of Americans also support modernizing the Farm Bill to support farmers as they implement more sustainable farming practices.” A key Walton Foundation Conclusion of this poll was: "Supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably is a way to protect people and nature together. This should be a priority in the Farm Bill, and also a call to action to the food industry – people are hungry for sustainable options."

Other key findings directly quoted from this poll include: “A broad bipartisan coalition says it is at least an important priority for Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Farm Bill (88% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans).” It appears that almost everyone agrees on this important point.

“Proposals in the Farm Bill reauthorization that move farming practices toward being more sustainable are popular among voters: 76% of voters support helping farmers to implement practices that protect our land, water, and health such as improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and establishing buffers between farm land and waterways."

“Voters want the federal government to encourage sustainable farming practices. When asked, 60% of voters agree that the federal government should use its power to encourage farmers to adopt more climate friendly practices."

“Today's inflation and rising food costs shouldn't stop American agriculture from planning for the future. Most voters (84%) agree that we need to do more to maintain soil health and water quality so we can feed future generations. When asked to choose between the agriculture industry producing food in a sustainable way that ensures America will be able to produce healthy food for the future, or producing enough food to feed the American population now while keeping costs down, a majority of voters favor preparing for a sustainable future (57% to 44%).”

“Voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for political office in their state if they advocate for modernizing the Farm Bill to better help farmers address climate change (50% say that they are more likely).” You might have noticed, that as the poll progressed, the support starts to decline as the question become more polarized.

The poll was taken from July 6-&, 2002 and polled a sample of 1,988 registered voters. The poll was conducted online and the answers were “weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on gender by age, educational attainment, race, marital status, home ownership, race by educational attainment, 2020 presidential vote, and region with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.” (Morning Consult Poll, 2023).

The issue of climate change will be one of the most debated topics. Farmers have to deal directly with warmer temperatures, droughts, flooding and weather extremes. There is a big push for the United States “to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, but the participation and transformation of the nation's agriculture sector will be needed to achieve that goal. US agricultural activities – which provide the food we eat, the fibers we wear, and the biofuels that run our cars – account for ~11% of national greenhouse gas emissions and up to 20% of national emissions when looking at the entire agri-food value chain.” According to the Walton Foundation, who supported this poll.

Several key environmental groups are pushing for the 50% reduction in agricultural greenhouse emissions. If no changes are made in the US Farm Bill “in a business-as-usual" scenario, emissions are likely to stay flat over the next 30 years. However, with coordinated effort by key actors across the agri-food value chain – including policymakers, researchers, companies, farmer and ranchers, and consumers; a 50% reduction in net emissions by 2050 may be possible.” Says the Walton Foundation, 2023.

The current US Farm bill expires in 2023. The farm bill is a series of legislative packages that are put together every 5 years. It includes concerns and issues from farmers and the rural community and combines legislation to address urban issues like SNAP (food stamps) and food security. This year, 2023, will be interesting as farmers and environmentalist debate how to put together a new US Farm Bill.