‘We are the Garden State': NJ backs its farmers in FDU poll
The latest in a two-decade long annual poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University, supported by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, has found 57% of Garden State residents believe it is very important to buy locally-grown produce in season, while 31% think it is at least somewhat important.
Peter Furey, Farm Bureau executive director, said his staff was pleased overall with the results for 2022, because although it has been a tough growing season, the "excellent track of support for agriculture" from the public remained intact.
As rising prices affect everyone's daily lives, Furey said the Farm Bureau was curious to find out if residents would continue to find initiatives that prop up the farming industry worthwhile.
The numbers showed that answer was a resounding yes.
"We have almost 90% of the public saying it's really important to them to have the agricultural producers close at hand, producing fresh produce," Furey said.
A similar percentage (85%) said they would be in favor of programs that lend financial aid to farms that may be in danger of shutting down.
The reasons for farm peril range from supply chain issues to the costs of fuel and fertilizer, but Furey said all of that was also exacerbated this year by prolonged drought.
So again, the response in the poll was reassuring.
"We're looking at it as an indicator to the decision makers, policy people, that the public values not only the fruits and vegetables, but all farms and the open space they provide," Furey said.
More specifically, a majority of New Jerseyans surveyed (62%) also said they could get behind incentive programs for farmers and farms to implement carbon-saving measures to fight climate change.
The exact same percentage said the state should work with local governments to regulate warehouse development on farmlands.
"We happen to think that farms can play a very positive role in carbon capturing," Furey said. "The question is, how do we engage the farm operators to do those practices?"
Again, Furey said the statistics in this most recent running of the poll were encouraging, but not necessarily surprising.
"We just know intuitively from interacting with the public that people like to have farms in New Jersey. We are the Garden State," he said.