Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Poll: Americans hold high regard for farmers

The following article ran in today’s Capital Press. In a related matter, a survey released earlier this year by Colorado State University (“Public Attitudes About Agriculture in Colorado”) produced results that were remarkable for the strong support average citizens give agriculture in that state. For example, agriculture was seen as the most important economic sector in Colorado, beating out tourism & recreation, high tech industries, and mining and petroleum. Nearly all respondents (96.8%) felt that maintaining agricultural land and water in agricultural production was “very” or “moderately” important. And, notably, nearly 3 of 4 respondents indicated that agriculture should be the top priority for water allocation in dry years, as compared to 1 in 5 respondents who said in-stream flow levels should be top priority. Rafting and fishing were seen as low priorities.

Here is the link to the full CSU report:


Here’s the executive summary:


Dan Keppen, Executive Director Family Farm Alliance

Poll: Americans hold high regard for farmers

High esteem doesn’t necessarily translate into high income

Don Curlee
Capital Press December 8, 2006

It might not translate into money in the bank, but farmers are held in relatively high regard by Americans surveyed by the Harris Poll earlier this year.

They were included in the annual poll for the first time in 2006 and came in ninth of the 23 occupations listed.

They were accorded "very great prestige" by 36 percent of those questioned. Firefighters, who garnered first place on the prestige scale, were held in the highest regard by 63 percent of those surveyed.

Second through eighth places were held (in descending order) by doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, military officers, police officers and priests/ministers/clergymen.

Close behind farmers were engineers, followed by members of Congress, architects and athletes. The next 10 places went to lawyers, entertainers, accountants, bankers, journalists, union leaders, actors, business executives, stock brokers and real estate brokers/agents.

The category of real estate broker/agent was the only occupation to gain less than a double digit percentage of votes for having "very great prestige."

It was included with union leader and actor as the only three considered by at least 25 percent of adults as having "hardly any prestige at all."

Some of the occupations have fluctuated from year to year in the amount of respect they receive. Teachers attracted only 29 percent of the high prestige vote in 1977 when the poll was first taken.

This year they were given that respect by 52 percent of those polled, the only occupation to rise in the public's perception over the full 25-year period.

For attorneys, public opinion has gone the opposite direction - from 36 percent support in 1977 to 21 percent in the latest survey.

Scientists, business executives, doctors and athletes have fallen 12, 7, 3 and 3 points, respectively, in the past quarter- century.

Some farmers are likely to wonder what is prestigious about their lifestyle.

They might have a point if you consider that the people polled probably have a somewhat romanticized view of the occupation, perhaps gained from television exposure.

Farmers themselves might have opinions worth sampling. California farmers generally tend to think of Midwest farmers as much more narrowly focused.

Whether that means more or less prestige is debatable. Those who grow row crops and field crops distinguish themselves from those invested in permanent crops such as trees and vines.

Of course, cattle ranchers, dairymen, swine producers and poultrymen occupy categories of their own, seldom identified by the crops they grow to feed their animals. And horse ranches bring entirely different images to the table.

It is gratifying that the Harris organization has included farmers in its list of occupations.

Whether they gain or lose popularity, or just hold their own in the years to come might depend on how well they protect and present the nation's food supply.

If their popularity rises it can be basis for expecting better prices for the products they produce.

Now that will be something they can take to the bank.

Don Curlee is a veteran ag publications editor and ag freelancer who writes on a variety of farm-related topics from Clovis, Calif.

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2006, All Rights Reserved