The Perceptions of Media Portrayals of Agriculture


The Perceptions of Media Portrayals of Agriculture


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Maria Boerngen

Mentor Department



With less than 2 % of the population being directly involved in agriculture production, the general public has lost touch with where their food comes from and have a lack of trust towards agriculture producers. Studies have shown that Americans tend to fear food production and production agriculture. This fear stems from not understanding what farmers are doing and why they are doing it. A recent report found that younger adults have more trust in technological sources such as bloggers, fitness apps, and TV personalities than information from farmers and scientists. While information is becoming more available at faster rates than in years past, not all media information is accurate. It has been reported that fake news stories increased exponentially in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. While “fake news” is a term typically used when discussing politics, it also has negatively affected the agriculture industry. False media portrayals about the agriculture industry can easily push consumers to have doubts about the overall production of food. To address the disconnect between farmers and the non-farming public, we paired agriculture students (who grew up on farms) and non-agriculture students (who did not grow up on farms) together to discuss their varying perspectives on the agriculture industry, one-on-one. These paired student experiences took place in Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Fall 2019 semesters (n=32). We sought to measure any changes in the participants’ perspectives as a result of this experience. The media portrayal of agriculture was one of the issues we studied. Through questionnaires administered prior to this experience, we determined that the agriculture students perceived a more negative media bias toward the industry than the non-agriculture students (p

The Perceptions of Media Portrayals of Agriculture