Colorado consumers believe agriculture is important not only for supplying food, but also maintaining the quality of life in the state, according to the results of a survey exploring public perceptions about the industry.
While 77 percent of consumers responding to the survey said agriculture supplies food at a reasonable price, 90 percent said agriculture is important to the quality of life in Colorado.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture conducted the survey in collaboration with Colorado State University to assess consumer attitudes.
“As agriculture becomes increasingly complex and consumers become more interested in understanding where their food comes from, it’s important for us to understand public perceptions and to identify new opportunities to engage consumers in a two-way conversation about Colorado agriculture,” said Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown.
According to the survey results, 85 percent of consumers buy Colorado agricultural products when shopping or eating out. While 75 percent believe “local” means shopping for dairy products, fruit, meats and vegetables from within Colorado, 83 percent believe food produced in Colorado is usually or almost always available. The top places where food dollars are spent include grocery stores, wholesale stores, health food stores and farmers’ markets.
Citing price and flavor as their top motivating factors, nearly 85 percent of consumers said its important to support local food systems. While 95 percent of consumers said maintaining land and water in agricultural production is important, 68 percent said agriculture should be the top priority for water use in dry years.
The survey also assessed differences between perceptions and reality about the agriculture industry in Colorado. Consumers cited corn, peaches, melons, vegetables and cattle as the top five products they believe to be grown or raised in Colorado. Cattle, dairy, corn, hay and wheat hold the top five spots. Those results reflect in part the success of producers and trade groups at branding Colorado-grown products, including sweet corn, peaches and cantaloupes.
The agriculture industry contributes more than $40 billion to the state economy each year and accounts for more than 173,000 jobs.