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Consumer perceptions of the agriculture industry are increasingly important as alternative labeling and non-conventional options become more common. Consumers are seeking a more dominant role in the conversation about their food. This study explores how the agriculture industry can respond in a way that improves consumer perceptions and builds trust. The study also seeks to answer the question of whether country of birth or background affects consumer perceptions of agriculture. The research model includes a QuestionPro survey completed by students at South Dakota State University, representing consumers in the Millennial generation who are more likely to respond positively to transparent communication. The survey included 13 questions in a Likert scale design addressing trustworthiness and food safety. Students from each of the 8 colleges within the university, including the graduate school, were invited to participate. This sample group involved students from a variety of majors and backgrounds, including international students. Survey responses (n =159) were analyzed to identify differences based on gender, native country, background (urban/rural non-farm/farm) and college within South Dakota State University. Results showed background affected perceptions of trust in regard to farmers, science, agricultural companies, animal welfare and food safety (p < 0.05). Statistical tendencies based on native country were also found (P < 0.10) for questions focused on food safety. The study identified video as the method most desired by consumers to increase transparency and recommends that videos of production and practices be utilized to provide consumers a closer glimpse at agriculture. Further studies should focus on determining types of information which will be most effective in engaging and improving consumer’s trust of all aspects of agriculture.




South Dakota State University


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