A two-year, $3-million advertising campaign has swayed public opinion of hog farmers in Ontario, Canada's most populated province.

The approval rating of pork producers was at an all-time low of 46% at the start of 2002, prior to the campaign. It soared to 59% by mid-March, when the national polling firm, Ipsos-Reid, surveyed 1,600 Canadians.

“We far exceeded expectations” because public opinion shifted faster than expected, and now we can cut the campaign back by half,” says Jim Vidoczy, who organized the Farm to Fork program for the Ontario Pork marketing board.

The provincial government paid for original funding of $1.5 million. Now farmers are trying to foot the bill through a levy of 10¢/market hog to raise $500,000/year.

The marketing board tracked the effectiveness of their ads. They learned that ads placed in Canada's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, were not very effective, and that radio ads, while complementing newspaper ads, were less effective than alternatives.

The marketing board unanimously agreed to continue the Farm to Fork campaign. “We've had a lot of good comments from producers,” says Vidoczy. “Some say it has become easier to obtain building permits to expand operations and to build new barns.”