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Near half of farmers pledge to food banks: poll

Almost half of all Canadian farmers have at least once donated some of their production to a local or international food bank organization, a new poll reports.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Forward Research with 1,048 farmers in early May this year, found 46 per cent of respondents have donated a portion of production. Of those, 59 per cent donate production directly.

Furthermore, out of those polled whose production can be donated, 20 per cent give on a yearly basis, Ipsos reported.

“Canadian farmers are known to be very generous people, however, before this survey, no one knew the extent of their generosity in terms of directly donating their farms’ production over the years,” Marinus Van Dijk, a senior vice-president with Ipsos, said in a release Thursday.

The level of farmers donating to food banks varied when considered by region or main farm operation type, the company said. “This is not surprising given the complexities of donating raw or unprocessed product, along with the difficulties, both financial and production-related, faced by many Canadian farm operations in recent years.”

Broken down by province and by type of production, the poll results indicated:

  • farmers in horticulture crops, hogs or poultry were most likely to have donated to a food bank (81, 81 and 79 per cent respectively);
  • out of those able to donate, hort crop and hog producers (43 and 38 per cent) also most commonly reported giving a portion of production on an annual basis; and
  • farmers in British Columbia report donating on a yearly basis more frequently than others (38 per cent of those able to donate), with over half (55 per cent) of B.C. farmers expecting to donate to a food bank this year.

The surveys were conducted online with members of “Producers’ Perspectives – The Ipsos Canadian AgriForum.” The final data were weighted to ensure the sample’s regional and farm type compositions reflect the actual Canadian farm population with $10,000 or more in gross annual farm sales, as per the 2006 federal census.

Out of all farmers polled, Ipsos found farmers in B.C. and Quebec more likely to donate annually (25 and 22 per cent of the provincial response); at 10 per cent, Ontario farmers were most likely to donate regularly, though not every year; and at 48 per cent, Saskatchewan had the most farmers report they have never donated. B.C. and Quebec also led in farmers who don’t produce items that can be donated (37 and 25 per cent).

By production type, hort growers were more likely to donate annually (33 per cent), hog producers most likely to donate “regularly” (10 per cent), poultry producers most likely to donate “from time to time” (44 per cent) and field crop growers most likely to have never donated (42 per cent). Producers of “other” livestock were most likely to say their production couldn’t be donated (60 per cent).

Asking all farmers polled to look at possible donations in 2008, hort crop growers were most likely to say it was “very likely” they would donate production (43 per cent). “Other” livestock producers were most likely to say it was “somewhat likely” (52 per cent) as well as “not very likely” (28 per cent, tied with poultry producers). Beef cattle producers and field crop producers were most likely to say a donation was “not likely at all” (32 and 31 per cent).

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