Likely voters in New Jersey vote overwhelmingly for their state's produce. Nearly 8 in 10 New Jersey likely voters shopped at roadside stands or farmers markets this past summer and over 8 in 10 likely voters in the state say they bought Jersey Fresh or local produce in the past month. According to a PublicMind study sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, 7 in 10 likely voters in the Garden State believe New Jersey has that appellation because of farming – an increase of 9 percentage points from last autumn.
“New Jersey is nationally notorious for nasty campaigns and political corruption. But it may surprise outsiders – and perhaps a few Jerseyans as well – that farming apparently remains central to the state's identity,” said John Schiemann, a professor of administrative science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of research for PublicMind.
There is also strong support on issues important to farmers. Over 8 in 10 respondents believe that farmers should be allowed to build some types of farm buildings on farmland they have sold for preservation, while 11% say that “preserved” means no farm buildings at all. A majority (55%) of likely voters say that the state should be required to prove that animals considered endangered are using private property within a habitat area before development on that property can be restricted. Within the survey population, 35% say land that falls within or near the habitat should be severely restricted. Nearly three-quarters of likely voters (73%) say taking active farmland by eminent domain, even if for a new school or for recreation, is not acceptable.
Nevertheless, New Jersey likely voters are largely unaware of some policies having an impact on farming. A majority of the state's likely voters (53%) have heard “just a little” or “nothing at all” about farmland preservation, while a solid plurality of 45% has heard or read “nothing at all” about legislation restricting development in the Highlands.
“It is one thing to like the idea of farming and buy New Jersey produce at roadside stands and grocery stores," Schiemann said. "But it is an entirely different thing to make yourself aware of and form opinions about complex environmental legislation affecting farmers.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll of 602 likely voters in New Jersey was conducted from October 4 through October 9 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
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