The agri-food sector spends a lot of time trying to understand what farmers think. In fact, farmers are inundated with well-intentioned survey takers, and get frustrated answering the same questions repeatedly (or even new questions). The truth is, farmers don't think, or act, like a pack, so it's hard to get to the answer. Below, I've cut and pasted a news release that details a new approach to rural research, combining e-communications with potentially representative demographics. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of news emerges from this initiative. Among professionals, there will still be lots of room for gathering information beyond Ipsos — Adfarm, for example, has a panel of 30 farmers, likewise designed for market intelligence — but with this breadth of farmers, the Ipsos panel has the potential to be a significant go-to group for business, industry and government.      
 * * *

New Ipsos Online Canadian Agricultural Producer Panel Meets Demand


For Survey-Based Research In Agribusiness Sector


WINNIPEG/MB–(Marketwire – March 11, 2008) – Ipsos, a leading global survey-based market research firm and Canada's most trusted research brand, announced today the launch of the Producers' Perspectives – The Ipsos Canadian AgriForum – a new proprietary online panel currently consisting of over 1,500 Canadian farmers. This new market research tool will help organizations in both the private or public sectors gather the opinions of Canada's agricultural producers quicker and in a more cost effective way.


"Canadian producers are interested in having their opinions heard," says Chad Greenall, Senior Research Manager with the Ipsos Agribusiness, Food, and Animal Health practice. "With the growing demands that running a successful agribusiness has on the producer's time, it is becoming more difficult to gather those opinions. The Producers' Perspectives AgriForum helps bridge that gap and allows organizations to gather producers' opinions with greater ease than ever before."


Producers' Perspectives members have been recruited by Ipsos and have agreed to participate in ongoing research on a wide variety of topics. Currently, over 1,500 producers from across Canada have joined the Producers' Perspectives AgriForum with plans to grow it to over 3,000 in the coming months.


All farm operation types found in Canada are represented within the membership of the Producers' Perspectives AgriForum – from operations with a large base of producers such as Field Crop or Cattle operations to smaller groups such as horticulture/viticulture producers and the specialty livestock producers. "Along with knowing their main farm operation, we also gathered other demographic data such as which farm business activities they are the main decision maker for, specific crops and livestock they produce, and other relevant information. This allows us to conduct surveys that target a very specific portion of the producer population so as to fit the needs of clients in the agribusiness sector" Greenall explains.


The panel was developed using a wide variety of approaches to avoid any sampling biases including email, phone, fax, mail, online advertising and Ipsos's extensive database of Canadian agricultural producers which contains 163,500 unique records.


Producers' Pespectives – The Ipsos Canadian AgriForum is an online community that is powered by Ipsos' custom and proprietary Interactive Forum software. This unique platform offers real-time, direct access to producers' insights and will act as an interface between agribusiness organizations and producers. "The software enables and fosters a sense of community within the Producers' Perspectives AgriForum through discussions between the producer members and the sharing of selected survey results back to the members," adds Greenall. "This ensures that members are engaged, provide thoughtful opinions, and receive some industry insight in return." Ipsos has developed an efficient, flexible and cost-effective research tool that delivers instant, 24-hour-day access to this highly specialized segment of the population.


Canadian agricultural producers interested in having their opinions heard can join the Producers' Perspectives AgriForum at


The Producers' Perspectives AgriForum is the second online panel initiative undertaken by the Ipsos Agribusiness, Food and Animal Health practice. The practice has also developed a new proprietary panel consisting of over 1,700 veterinarians in North America – with plans to grow it to over 2,000 in the coming year.