Marylanders Are Also Concerned About Environmental Impacts
ANNAPOLIS - The 2007 Policy Choices Survey by the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that 76 percent of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce that is identified as having been grown by a Maryland farmer, up from 57 percent last year. Forty-eight percent say they are willing to pay at least some premium for farm products that would support Maryland farmers. Further supporting agriculture, a full 96 percent of those surveyed said that that it is at least "somewhat important" that the state preserve land for farming, up from 88 percent last year.
"Consumer response to this survey is good news for Maryland farmers," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "It shows a positive consumer attitude with great potential for local farm products and an understanding by Marylanders that farms and agricultural products are an important part of our culture and economy. These responses support the importance of the O'Malley-Brown Administration's commitment to farmland preservation and rural economic development programs."
The telephone survey of 810 adult Marylanders also found that residents are concerned about the environment, but did not delve into their understanding of the environmental pressures. Industrial discharge (88%) and sewage treatment plants (82%) were perceived to pose the most serious threats to the health of the Bay. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed identified farm runoff as having a major impact on the Bay while 63 percent identified growth and development as a serious threat. Fifty-two percent said storm runoff from urban areas was a major impact.
"There is nothing more important to a farmer than healthy, productive land and water," said Agriculture Secretary Roger L. Richardson. "Farmers can't make a living or provide the healthy food, scenic farms and strong quality of life that consumers want if they don't protect our natural resources. We appreciate the public's support for farming and the funding needed for farmers to take the strongest environmental protection measures."
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has participated in the Schaefer Center Policy Choices Survey since 2002 to gauge public opinion about a number of farming issues and consumer preferences. The annual telephone survey is conducted annually. The 2007 survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.44 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Over all, support for farmland preservation continues to rise as does consumer desire for local products. The identification of sources of impacts to the Bay has remained steady. More information about and results from the survey can be found online at http://scpp.ubalt.edu/.
Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture