Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Arbindra Rimal


This study addresses public perception and preferences regarding the multifunctional roles of agriculture in the United States. The data was collected in 2008 nationally through survey method at Southern Illinois University. These surveys asked the respondents if they disagreed or agreed with a number of statements about the role agriculture played including sustaining and growing rural communities; ensuring adequate supply of food; providing open space amenities; providing positive environmental impact; and preserving farming cultural heritage. The responses were recorded on a seven point scale. Statistical analyses were conducted using 1070 useable surveys that were then processed through SPSS, a data analysis program. The results indicated that the perception and preference regarding the roles of agriculture were statistically different across socio demographic as well as regional variables including household size, household income, gender, race, age, and U.S. regions. For example, more female respondents agreed that sustaining and growing rural communities was the most important function of agriculture than male respondents (P-value <0.000). Similarly, more households in the South and Midwest agreed that agriculture has positive environmental impacts than those in Northeast and West (P-value =0.10). The results from this research will provide important insight for future agriculturalist and policy makers while preparing and promoting agricultural policies.


multifunctionality, rural communities, public perception, advocacy, agricultural policy

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