Forget the countdown to Christmas, the politically obsessed are counting down to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus, which is just six weeks away.
A new poll from Iowa-based RABA Research finds that the state’s voters are seeking change in the federal government’s priorities for supporting and protecting U.S. agriculture.
The poll found:
- 58% of Iowa voters believe climate change is affecting agriculture in their area—of those who had an opinion, nearly two to one agree it is having an effect.
- Eight in 10 see extreme weather, such as droughts and floods as a significant threat to farmers and communities; 49% believe it is a very significant threat.
- 78% see damaged or eroded soil as a significant threat, while 83% see water pollution from farm runoff as a threat.
- 64% said they would be more likely to support a 2020 presidential candidate or other candidate for public office who proposed ways to help farmers by building up the soil.
- 49% of Iowa voters said they most wanted to hear candidates talk about diversifying and developing new markets for the products farmers grow.
“From Iowa to Arkansas, farm state voters recognize that agriculture, farm communities and our food supply are being threatened by a host of issues, including climate change and trade disruption,” said Karen Perry Stillerman, senior analyst with the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who commissioned the study. “Across party lines, voters want presidential candidates to propose science-based solutions that can build farmers’ resilience while also reducing water pollution and the flooding risks of cities and towns that are downstream from farms.”
Seventy percent of Minnesota poll respondents, 68% of Nebraska and Arkansas respondents, 64% of Iowa respondents and 57% of Michigan respondents said they would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who proposed ways to help farmers by building up the soil. The poll was conducted between Nov. 20 and 24 through telephone and online interviews and included more than 3,000 voters across the five states.
The survey found:
- Majorities of voters in each state—as high as 93% in Nebraska and Minnesota—say extreme weather is a threat to farmers and communities in their area. When asked specifically if “climate change” is affecting local agriculture, majorities in Iowa (58%), Michigan (63%), Minnesota (65%), and Nebraska (59%), agreed that it is. Notably, 61% of respondents with farmers in their households across the five states also agreed.
- Pluralities of voters (as high as 49% in Iowa and Minnesota) reported they most want to hear political candidates talk about diversifying and developing new markets for farm products.
- Majorities ranging from 78% in Michigan to 90% in Minnesota said they support government programs that help farmers try practices that build soil health.
- Overwhelming majorities of voters in all five states—as many as 90% in Minnesota—agreed that policies and programs that help farmers build healthy, living soil will help everyone by keeping water clean, saving taxpayers money on disaster relief, revitalizing local economies, and ensuring a reliable, healthy food supply.