America's Heartland, a television program shown on many PBS stations around the country, is improving the attitudes of the general public toward the industry that provides feed, food, fiber and fuel. According to research conducted by Trac Media Services, the program, now in its fifth season, is having a "definite" impact on its viewers in its effort to educate them about farming.

The National Corn Growers Association supports the program.

"The impact is most evident among skeptics of U.S. agriculture," said Craig Reed, of Trac Media Services. "We saw the most dramatic improvement of attitudes among those who disagreed with statements asking if the agricultural industry provided quality products; offered healthy products; gave a good buy for the dollar; grew crops properly; and raised livestock properly."

Specifically, the sponsors and promotional partners of America's Heartland, including NCGA and the U.S. Grains Council, wanted to see if the program was improving perceptions of U.S. agriculture and those who work the land by objectively telling true stories. Last month, telephone and online surveys were conducted where participants' perceptions were measured prior to seeing the television program. They were then sent an America's Heartland DVD and were re-interviewed.

The percentage of participants rating their favorability toward agriculture as an eight or higher on a one-to-ten scale went from 48 percent before watching an episode to 63 percent after watching the program. In the online test, the favorability increased from 42 percent to 69 percent. The two surveys collectively included more than 1,100 participants.

"These improvements in attitudes toward agriculture held up across all demographic categories," Reed said. The survey results were released at a recent America's Heartland Advisory Board meeting.