Environmental Awareness, Economic Orientation, and Farming Practices: A Comparison of Organic and Conventional Farmers

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point University of Wisconsin Extension College of Natural Resources Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481-3897, USA
Environmental Management (Impact Factor: 1.72). 10/1997; 21(5):747-58.
Source: PubMed


/ This study examines similarities and differences between organic and conventional farmers. We explore the factors that underlie farmers' conservation attitudes and behaviors, including demographic and farm characteristics, awareness of and concern for environmental problems associated with agriculture, economic orientation toward farming, and self-reported conservation practices. A series of intensive personal interviews was conducted with 25 farmers in Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA, using both qualitative and quantitative survey methods. The findings indicate that both groups of farmers share a concern for the economic risks associated with farming, although the organic farmers reported a significantly greater concern for long-term sustainability and a greater willingness to incur present risk to gain future benefits. Organic farmers expressed a greater awareness of and concern for environmental problems associated with agriculture. Organic farmers also scored significantly higher on a multifaceted measure of conservation practices, although both groups had a fairly high adoption rate. Implications of these findings are discussed, relative to economic risks of farming, implications for new farmers, effectiveness of conservation education and government programs, and impact of farm size and crop diversity.KEY WORDS: Environmental attitudes; Conservation behaviors; Organic farming; Agricultural sustainability

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Available from: Raymond K De Young, Dec 29, 2013
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    • "However, Vitale et al. (2011) reported no clear association between awareness of environmental consequences and the adoption of soil best management practices, including no-till. Other factors that might influence a farmer's decision to adopt organic agriculture include placing a high value on the quality of farm products (Kallas et al., 2010) or on soil management (Kaufmann et al., 2011) and soil quality; or concern about the ecological and human health effects of agro-chemical use (McCann et al., 1997; Kaufmann et al., 2011). Kaufmann et al. found that positive perceptions about the impact of organic farming methods on human, wildlife and plant health significantly correlates with organic adoption decisions (Kaufmann et al., 2011). "
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    • "Many organic farmers are motivated by concern for environmental degradation (Fairweather and Campbell 1996). This basic motivation for farming translates into pest management decision-making; organic growers are more willing to incur short-term pest management risk for future benefits (McCann et al. 1997). As a result, they also appear more likely to adopt integrated pest management (IPM) systems, which benefit the environment, but may not always prove profitable in the short-term (Pannell et al. 2006). "
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    • "The fourth series of adoption factors are diffusion factors. Diffusion models assume that the adoption of conservation practices depends mainly on information, social learning and past experiences (McCann et al., 1997). It is assumed that awareness of the problem, awareness of the need for action and awareness of the existence of possible actions and measures will trigger the adoption of the innovation. "
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