New Survey Shows Better Feelings About Agriculture

The 2010 Policy Choices Survey by the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that 94 percent of those surveyed said that it is at least “somewhat important” that the state preserve land for farming. The results were consistent with last year’s survey, showing steady support for Maryland agriculture.

Additionally the survey revealed increased understanding of the impact of stormwater runoff from urban areas, runoff from residential areas and lawns, and growth and development as major threats to the Chesapeake Bay.

The telephone survey of 815 adult Marylanders also found that residents are concerned about the environment, but did not delve into their understanding of the environmental pressures. Industrial discharge (86%) and sewage treatment plants (76%) were perceived to pose the most serious threats to the health of the Bay.

Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said stormwater runoff from urban areas was a major impact. Fifty-seven percent saw growth and development as a major threat (up from 50% last year) while 44 percent thought runoff from residential lawns and backyards was a major threat to the Bay (up from 31% last year). Additionally, 38 percent of respondents saw automobile emissions as a major threat (down from 46 % last year).

In both 2008 and 2009, farm runoff has been identified as the third biggest threat; in 2008 respondents rated it as either a major impact (69%) or a minor impact (22%). In 2009, the percentages were 59% and 30% respectively. Assuming this trend continues, it may be an indication that agricultural activities once perceived as major threats to the Chesapeake Bay now are being perceived as minor ones.

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 telephone survey is conducted annually. The 2010 survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.43 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

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