A new Purdue Extension publication presents local and state leaders with research findings on the similarities and differences in how people in rural and urban Indiana perceive animal agriculture.

The authors of “Views on Animal Agriculture in Rural Versus Urban Indiana Counties” explain the viewpoints that influence food purchasing decisions and evaluate how residents in rural, urban and "mixed" counties – those where there is a combination of both urban and rural living – get their information on animal welfare and form their opinions on livestock operations.

"Given agriculture's importance to Indiana, understanding the views of residents in both rural and urban settings is necessary for decision makers," writes the lead author, Ann Cummins, an agricultural economics graduate student, and co-authors Nicole Olynk Widmar, agricultural economics associate professor; Joan Fulton, agricultural economics associate department head and professor; and Candace Croney, director of the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science.

The researchers say that although food consumption behavior and patterns of Indiana residents did not differ among people in urban, rural and mixed counties, there were differences in how they viewed animal agriculture.

A larger percentage of people in rural counties said they would not oppose the building of new livestock operations than those in urban counties, the researchers found. Responses were neutral, however, among people in rural, urban and mixed counties when they were asked if livestock operations make good neighbors.


"This is interesting because while people who live in rural counties are friendlier to growth, the perception of livestock operations as good neighbors is not statistically different from those in urban, rural or mixed counties," the researchers concluded.

The publication is based on a July 2014 survey of 797 Indiana adults. Sixty-one percent lived in urban counties, 12 percent in rural and 27 percent in mixed.

Graphs to illustrate respondents' concerns about water quality and sources for animal welfare information are included in the publication.

The publication is available free for download at Purdue Extension's The Education Store.

The publication is the latest in a series created to help state and local leaders better tackle the many quality-of-life issues facing people in the most rural counties in Indiana. Other publications in the series also are available at the store by searching for "rural Indiana." PD

—From Purdue University news release