"Today's Agriculture" exhibit at the 2012 Pennsylvania Farm Show drew a lot of visitors, especially to the animal care exhibits inside a slightly down-sized barn. PennAg Industries Association, on behalf of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Livestock Care and Well-Being, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture received valuable feedback about the exhibit from its target audience.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a non-profit national animal agriculture organization based in Washington, D.C., conducted a series of interviews during the show. Alliance staff filmed 32 visitors and interviewed another 100 after they toured the 10,000-square-foot exhibit.
Ten questions encouraged genuine feedback from visitors, rather than leading interviewees to answers. Alliance staff compiled all the responses, noting that there were two common themes: 1. Farmers are seen as hard workers and 2. Farming looks different than it did in past generations.
The response to the animal care exhibits was overwhelmingly positive, particularly from families with small children. Adults and children cited the pig exhibit as their favorite display, with the veal exhibit noted as the most eye-opening by adults.
Animal housing, as it relates to space allocation for sows and hens, was the most frequently asked question by the visitors – and answered by exhibit volunteers. Here are a few direct quotes, taken from the video interviews:
•"I think a lot of America, especially today's youth, grows up without thinking about where their food comes from. An exhibit like this is really useful to get the ball rolling."
•"Farming has changed, the technology involved has come a long way. It's not your father's farm!"
•"A farmer deserves all the praise in the world for what he does. It is hard work and most of the time they don't get the credit they deserve."
•"I think how they [the volunteers] act is nicer [than I expected a farmer to act], like how they treat their animals."
•"It was a lot better than what I expected [farming to look like]. I have watched a lot of documentaries on raising chickens – Food, Inc – and this was a lot more humane. I liked what I saw."
•"I was very surprised how items used on the farm are recycled."
•"[I thought that] the least amount of land and living space that the animals need to be productive [was the most surprising]."To view the complete summary of the Alliance report, a wrap-up of the Today's Agriculture media coverage, or a list of exhibit sponsors, visit www.pennag.com .