2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll Results Available

2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll Results Available

Poll asked a number of questions to gauge how farmers feel about funding for natural resources conservation and the proposed constitutional amendment which Iowans will vote on in the November 2 general election.

Iowa State University Extension announces the release of a new Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll report: Farmers' Views on Conservation Funding and Iowa's Water and Land Legacy Amendment. On November 2, 2010, Iowans will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Iowa constitution referred to as Iowa's Water and Land Legacy.

This amendment would create a dedicated fund called the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The intent of the Trust Fund would be to provide additional investment in agricultural conservation, wildlife habitat and natural resources-based recreation opportunities. The 2010 Farm Poll contains a number of questions to gain an understanding of how farmers feel about funding for conservation in general and the proposed amendment in particular. This report presents the responses to those questions.

To read it, you can Link directly to the Farmers' Views on Conservation Funding and Iowa's Water and Land Legacy Amendment report in PDF format. It is ISU publication PM 3008. Additional topics are also addressed in the Iowa Poll. The entire 2010 Summary Report which contains other poll questions and results can be downloaded. More than 1,300 farmers participated in the 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, offering their views on community and economic development issues affecting rural communities across Iowa and the Midwest.

The 2010 Summary Report, PM 3007, can be downloaded at no cost from the Iowa State University Extension Online Store using the link above.

On average, participating farmers in the 2010 poll were 64 years old, and 48% earned more than half of their income from farming, says ISU Extension sociologist J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr., who co-directs the survey ISU's Paul Lasley.

The 2010 poll also covers community and economic development issues

Much of the 2010 survey focused on community and economic development issues. The summary report presents data on changes in perceptions about rural community life over time, including trends in quality of life, neighboring, access to services and commerce and population change. The 2010 survey also examines farmers' perspectives on Iowa prospects for agritourism, a potential source of economic development.

Conducted every year since it began in 1982, this poll is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation. ISU Extension, the Iowa Ag and Home Economics Experiment Station, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Ag Statistics Service are all partners in the Farm Poll effort.

One of the unique and important characteristics of the Farm Poll is that its longevity allows for tracking changes over time. "This year we looked back to assess how responses regarding community life and neighboring have changed over the years. We had asked the same sets of questions in 1984, 1990, 1996, 2006 and 2010. This year we analyzed some of the changes over time."

A look at how community life and neighboring have changed

Results were mixed in 2010, as well as when viewed over the past three decades, Arbuckle says. "Most of the declines appear to be related to changes in the social fabric of rural communities, whether from population loss or an influx of new residents as people have moved to rural areas to live on acreages or seek employment. Both population loss and the arrival of new residents can change the ways that neighbors relate to each other."

However, Arbuckle also notes positive trends. In 2010, farmers indicated they had slightly more time to visit with their neighbors and to be active in community affairs. While not major shifts, the trends suggest that farmers perceive modest improvements over the last three decades.

"Assessments of quality of life were also encouraging," he adds. "About 83% of farmers report that their quality of life had either remained the same or improved over the last five years, and 79% indicate that their quality of life would either stay the same or improve over the next five years. Despite the deep recession and some difficult weather-related events, Iowa farmers feel like they and their families maintained their quality of life and are optimistic about the future."

The 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll summary report, as well as previous summary and topical reports are available to download from the ISU Extension Online Store and Extension Sociology.

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