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Poll Finds Americans Prefer Family Farms

Roper poll shows consumers trust family farms; Americans say industrial
farms more likely to put human & environment health at risk

May 3, 2004

>From a press release

LAFARGE, Wis. -- For safe, nutritious food, Americans place more trust
in smaller scale family farms than in large scale industrial farms, according
to a national consumer opinion poll conducted by Roper Public Affairs on
behalf of Organic Valley Family of Farms, the largest and only independent
national organic farmers' cooperative.

Americans overwhelmingly say that smaller scale family farms are more
likely to care about food safety than large scale industrial farms by a 71%
to 15% margin. More than eight in ten consumers (85%) say they trust
smaller scale family farms to produce safe, nutritious food. Almost twice
as many consumers (45%) place a lot of trust in smaller scale family farms
compared to large scale industrial farms (24%).

"Once again, the American public has placed their trust in the family --
the family farm. Small and mid-sized family farmers take great pride in
the integrity and quality of the food they produce. We are farming for the
next generation and not solely for this year's profits. Our children and
yours are our utmost concern and that is why we do everything we can to
avoid polluting our bodies, our animals and the earth. Thank you America for
your vote of confidence!" said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEO of
Organic Valley.

Survey Indicates Smaller Family Farms are Better for People, Planet
Nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) say smaller scale family farms are
more likely than large scale industrial farms (22%) to use techniques that
won't harm the environment. Farming techniques today, such as the use of
pesticides and genetic engineering, can have many effects on the natural

Overall, seven in ten Americans express at least moderate concern about
the health risks of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals
used in food production (70%), with just over one in four (28%) saying these
chemicals pose a high risk to human health.

Women (79%) are significantly more likely than men (61%) to say the
pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics used to produce many foods pose a
moderate or high risk to human health. Men (32%) are nearly twice as
likely as women (17%) to say those chemicals pose minor or no risk to human

Other highlights of the Organic Valley-Roper Food and Farming Survey

Consumers Will Pay More

Two-thirds of Americans say they would pay more for foods produced
without chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.

Women (71%) are more likely than men (62%) to say they'd pay more.

About half of those surveyed (51%) say they would be willing to pay a
premium for foods produced with humane treatment of animals.

Four in ten (42%) would not.

Decline of U.S. Farms is Troubling According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of U.S. farms has dropped from seven million in the 1930's to about two million today, and 330 farmers leave the land every week. The public is troubled
by this pattern.

Fully 82% say they are at least somewhat concerned with
the decline in the number of American farms; nearly half (46%) are very
concerned. Important to Know if Food is Grown Locally
Most consumers find it important to know whether food is grown or
produced locally or regionally.

Overall, 73% of them find this information important, with 38% saying
it is very important.

Americans living in the Northeast (83%) were more likely to say this was important than those in the South (71%), West (70%) or Midwest (70%).

Labels Would Have an Impact

Most Americans (73%) report that having food labels specify whether a
product was produced with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or
genetically modified ingredients would have an impact on their product choice.

The Food and Farming 2004 study was conducted by Roper Public Affairs
via telephone among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, age
18 or older. Interviews were conducted from March 26 to April 10, 2004,
using a Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methodology to include both listed and
unlisted phone numbers. The margin of error due to sampling is plus or
minus three percentage points at the .95 confidence level, although it
is larger for the results for smaller subgroups of the public. The demographic
characteristics of the random sample were compared with the most recent
Census Bureau estimates and corrective weights were applied to ensure
proper representation based on age, gender, education, race and region.
About Roper Public Affairs Roper Public Affairs, a NOP World company, is a leading global marketing research and consulting firm with headquarters in New York and offices
in London, Manila and throughout the U.S. NOP World is among the ten
largest global market research companies in the U.S. and the world. Bringing
together some of the most renowned U.S. and European research firms in a
unified global network, NOP World is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
UK-based United Business Media plc. (Nasdaq: UNEWY)
Organic Valley: Farming for Future Generations Organized in 1988, the Organic Valley cooperative today is made up of 633 organic farmers in 16 states. It's the only national organic brand that is 100-percent farmer-owned and proudly the only independent national organic dairy in the U.S. In 2003, sales totaled $156 million, a 25 percent jump
over 2002. The cooperative sells more than 130 organic products in
leading natural foods, groceries and cooperatives nationwide. For further
information, visit

Comments on the Organic Valley - Roper Food and Farming Survey
"The Roper-Organic Valley Survey is proof positive that Americans want
to keep alive the family farms that built our great nation and enabled our
democracy to thrive. Never before has it been so important for citizens
to take action to support Rural America. The farmers who are leaving the
land at the alarming rate of more than 300 a week need to know we support

We need to show our support at the cash register by buying foods produced by small scale family farms."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Waterkeeper Alliance

"The Organic Valley-Roper Survey drives home recent surveys findings by
The Leopold Center and others: the majority of customers prefer food
produced without pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics, and the vast
majority prefer food produced locally by family farmers -- a food source that
they trust more. Ironically, our current industrial food system is driving
these very farms out of business at an unprecedented rate. The challenge
before us is to develop more marketing infrastructures that connect these farms
to the consumers that want to buy the unique products they produce."
Frederick Kirschenmann
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

"In an ever-changing global economy, we must do all we can to ensure
farmers have all the necessary resources to compete. I look forward to
upholding the role family farms play on rural America, specifically New
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

"Some of the best stewards of the land and the environment are America's
family farmers, and the public understands that. Family farmers are more
connected to the land, and people feel more connected to the land when
family farmers are around."
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

"FARM AID's work to keep family farmers on the land is a proven benefit
for everyone seeking fresh, local, family farm food. People trust family
farmers, and consumers deserve all the information they need to make the
best food choices."
Carolyn Mugar
Executive Director
FARM AID, Inc. (

"This survey confirms that consumers are better educated on the fragile
state of our food system than our current administration would have you
think. Now, our challenge is to translate that concern into financial
security for America's organic family farmers."
Bob Scowcroft
Executive Director
Organic Farming Research Foundation (
SOURCE Organic Valley Family of Farms