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

ABSTRACT / 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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    • "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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    ABSTRACT: Many researchers have been investigating factors that influence farmers' adoption of soil conservation practices. This paper presents an exhaustive review of the empirical literature since 1980. It reviews and meta-analyses 69 empirical studies on the adoption of soil conservation practices. The main results prove disappointing for nation-wide policy arrangements, as there are almost no universal patterns to discover. In fact, variables that are since decades regarded as classic adoption of innovation variables actually converge to an insignificant influence. We list some of the methodological weaknesses of many past adoption studies, which may account for a significant proportion of insignificant results and inconsistency. We offer several suggestions for future adoption researchers and derive opportunities for policy makers. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Wauters, E. and Mathijs, E. (2014) 'The adoption of farm level soil conservation practices in developed countries: a meta-analytic review', Int. J. Agricultural
    International Journal of Agricultural Resources Governance and Ecology 04/2014; 10(1):78-102. DOI:10.13140/2.1.3770.1766
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    • "The situation is much better in places covered by agricultural information/ education programmes. Such actions increase the environmental awareness of both conventional and organic farmers (Frost, 2003; McCann, 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: Poor condition of Polish agriculture, clean soil environment and extensive methods of production make Poland particularly suitable for developing environmentally friendly forms of farming. In the last decade the number of people who have decided to convert from old, conventional farms to new, environmentally friendly ones, has markedly increased. The objective of this study was to find out what motivates farmers to convert to, or establish organic farms. We were particularly interested in the environmental aspect of their decisions. The study was conducted in the form of a questionnaire among organic farmers – compliance certificate holders – in the Malopolska Province, Poland. The results show that organic farmers' environmental knowledge is selective and focuses only on some areas of farming. Respondents' knowledge and environmental awareness and their education, age or sex were not related, however, their knowledge about nature goes hand-in-hand with their environmental awareness. The prevailing majority of organic farmers know the basic mechanisms of nature that are significant for agricultural production; they are also aware of threats from conventional farming and understand the need to propagate organic farming as its alternative. In their activity, organic farmers attain several objectives simultaneously, but their main motivation is not environmental.
    International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development 01/2008; 7(3):345-361. DOI:10.1504/IJESD.2008.021904
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    • "Information from sources with a conservation focus (e.g., wildlife agencies) has encouraged land conservation (Korsching & Hoban 1990), whereas reliance on sources whose interests may conflict with conservation (e.g., farm supply companies) or a lack of information altogether has discouraged conservation (Osterman & Hicks 1988; Grieshop et al. 1990). Parcel size may encourage conservation if large landowners believe their actions are more important or they can afford to take more risks (Fortmann & Huntsinger 1989), or it may discourage conservation if large landowners believe they have more to lose (McCann et al. 1997). Personal values can either encourage or discourage land conservation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Private landowners manage many rare species' habitats, yet research on their responses to species conservation legislation is scarce. To address this need, we examined private landowners' responses to the listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). We mailed a questionnaire designed to measure these responses to a sample of landowners. The adjusted response rate was 46% (n =379). The questionnaire asked landowners whether they had managed their land to improve the Preble's habitat and to minimize the chance of the Preble's living on it. We also asked whether landowners had or would allow a survey for the Preble's on their property. We hypothesized that landowners would respond to these questions based on their aesthetic preferences, economic concerns, information sources, parcel size, personal values, recreation activities, residence status, social influences, and other factors. Listing the Preble's under the ESA does not appear to have enhanced its survival prospects on private land. In terms of hectares owned, for example, the efforts of landowners who reported they had sought to help the Preble's (25%) were canceled out by the efforts of those who sought to harm it (26%). Moreover, the majority of respondents had not or would not allow a biological survey (56%), thus preventing the collection of data for conserving the species. All eight hypothesized determinants significantly predicted responses to the listing when they were considered individually. When considered simultaneously, however, only one economic consideration (dependence on agriculture), recreation activity (consumptive), and social factor (distrusting government), and select information sources (conservation and social), and personal values (valuing nature, valuing local control, and denying landowner responsibility) remained direct determinants. To promote the conservation of rare species by private landowners, we recommend communicating information through social networks, alleviating landowners' economic concerns, increasing use of collaborative processes, and institutionalizing assurances that landowners will not be harmed by managing their land to help rare species.
    Conservation Biology 12/2003; 17(6):1638-1649. DOI:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2003.00258.x · 4.17 Impact Factor
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