About 95 percent of registered voters believe that having a strong farming industry is important to the overall economic health of New Jersey, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University's Public Mind poll.

About 74 percent of survey respondents say they have heard of the slogan "Jersey Fresh." That's up from 67 percent in 2016. Awareness runs deep, says Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

The big question, Furey says, is "when the customer is in a supermarket and sees Jersey Fresh produce, are they inclined to favor it over produce that comes from other areas?"

The answer is yes. According to the FDU/Public Mind poll, 59 percent say they seek out the Jersey Fresh label when shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Furey says the farmers got a nice pat on the back from the Department of Agriculture's program and it makes the farmers who are working in produce feel good about their produce. He says it's a nice booster.

Farming is also seen by many as an important part of conservation. The survey finds nearly 88 percent believe farming is an environmentally friendly use of the land.

The public loves the farms and wants them to stay, says Furey. He says New Jerseyans are very observant as to what goes into a farm and they think it's OK to have our residential areas in close to farms.

But when the study asked New Jerseyans about the state's air and water quality, 32 percent say the environment is getting worse. Only 14 percent say it's getting better and 52 percent believe it is the same.

Residents were also asked about management plans for deer on government-owned lands. Farmers have trouble when parklands do not control wildlife, and they have trouble when parklands do not control the grasses and vegetation, says Furey. Weeds spread into farmlands and that becomes a problem. He says the public believes there should be some accountability for the way these lands are managed.

About 57 percent favor plans to limit the damage caused by deer, for example. These animals can do major damage to cars, crops and other vegetation.

Another 75 percent believe the plans should include deer hunting. Among men, 84 percent are supporters of hunting compared to 66 percent of women. Despite being the strongest supporters of any management plans, 57 percent of Millennials, ages 18-34, are less likely than older residents to support hunting as a means of controlling damage.

Furey hopes the incoming administration and Legislature take note of how important farming is to the state of New Jersey.

Also on WOBM:


More From Beach Radio