According to the most recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™ and co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, most New Jersey voters say the way NJ produces food is heading in the right direction; and a majority say farming is an environmentally friendly use of the land. New Jersey residents also continue to show strong support for Jersey-grown produce. “We think this bodes well for supporting the locally-grown movement, where people have direct contact with farmers who supply the food they eat,” said New Jersey Farm Bureau Executive Director, Pete Furey.
Better than 9 in 10 (94%) New Jerseyans say it is ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season. In addition, the percentage of individuals (87%) who have purchased Jersey Fresh produce from a farm stand or farmers market in the past three months compares favorably to the 83% who had purchased Jersey Fresh produce in a similar timeframe in 2010.
Nine in ten (90%) New Jerseyans say they would like to see more Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables served with public school meals; up from 85% in 2010. Once again, support is strong this year across all demographics, with no category less than 85%.
Despite these gains, fewer New Jerseyans (64%) have ‘a lot’ of confidence in locally grown Jersey Fresh produce than in 2010 (73%). “Overall, this has been a challenging year for the production of certain foods and there has been increased media coverage about tainted foods elsewhere in country. While our New Jersey produce has always been safe, we apparently have taken a slight drop in our stellar reputation due to those circumstances," Furey said. A majority of Jerseyans (55%) say that NJ agriculture is on the right track in the way it produces food, compared with 35% who say the same for the US production of food. “We think locally grown produce for local markets is the way of the future,” he added.
Most (60%) NJ voters recognize that Canadian geese can be a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem for farmers in the state. Republicans (34%) are more likely than Democrats (21%) to say the issue is ‘very serious’. Likewise, older voters, those 45-59 (30%) and 60+ (33%) are more likely than younger voters 18-29 (22%) or 30-44 (18%) to say it is a ‘very serious’ problem. Overall, most (69%) support allowing farmers to hunt geese to limit the damages to their crops. Males (74%) are more likely than females (64%) to support the hunt, while the northwestern (85%) part of the state shows the strongest support. While many people recognize geese as a problem for farmers, far fewer (39%) say the geese are a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem for themselves.
On the first of two environmental issues, only 4 in 10 voters (43%) say the state should encourage the conversion of farmland to large-scale solar and wind projects; 4 in10 (39%) say the state should not. The rest (18%) are unsure. On the second, the majority (86%) say farming is an environmentally friendly use of land, while only 7% say farming contributes to the degradation of the environment.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau and conducted by telephone from Oct. 17 through 23 using a randomly selected sample of 623 registered voters statewide aged 18 and over. The margin of error for a sample of 623 is +/- 4 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.