Purdue Extension publication delves into how public views animal agriculture

Researchers have found that, as expected, views of animal agriculture vary based upon where Indiana residents call home. A Purdue Extension publication, “Views on Animal Agriculture in Rural Versus Urban Indiana Counties,” shows the viewpoints that influence food purchasing decisions and evaluate how residents in rural, urban and “mixed” counties – those where there is a combination of both urban and rural living – get their information on animal welfare and form their opinions on livestock operations.

“Given agriculture’s importance to Indiana, understanding the views of residents in both rural and urban settings is necessary for decision makers,” write Purdue University lead author Ann Cummins, an agricultural economics graduate student; and co-authors Nicole Olynk Widmar, agricultural economics associate professor; Joan Fulton, agricultural economics associate department head and professor; and Candace Croney, director of the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science.

The researchers say that although food consumption behavior and patterns of Indiana residents did not differ among people in urban, rural and mixed counties, there were differences in how they viewed animal agriculture.

View of animal ag

A larger percentage of people in rural counties said they would not oppose the building of new livestock operations than those in urban counties, the researchers found. Responses were neutral, however, among people in rural, urban and mixed counties when they were asked if livestock operations make good neighbors. 

“This is interesting because while people who live in rural counties are friendlier to growth, the perception of livestock operations as good neighbors is not statistically different from those in urban, rural or mixed counties,” the researchers concluded.

The publication is based on a July 2014 survey of 797 Indiana adults. Sixty-one percent lived in urban counties, 12% in rural and 27% in mixed.

Graphs to illustrate respondents’ concerns about water quality and sources for animal welfare information are included in the publication.

The publication is available free for download at Purdue Extension’s The Education Store. Search for product code EC-799-W.

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