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Farmers’ Attitudes About Farming and the Environment: A Survey of Conventional and Organic Farmers. Journal of Agriculture & Environmental Ethics 9: 123-143


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Farmers have been characterized as people whose ties to the land have given them a deep awareness of natural cycles, appreciation for natural beauty and sense of responsibility as stewards. At the same time, their relationship to the land has been characterized as more utilitarian than that of others who are less directly dependent on its bounty. This paper explores this tension by comparing the attitudes and beliefs of a group of conventional farmers to those of a group of organic farmers. It was found that while both groups reject the idea that a farmer’s role is to conquer nature, organic farmers were significantly more supportive of the notion that humans should live in harmony with nature. Organic farmers also reported a greater awareness of and appreciation for nature in their relationship with the land. Both groups view independence as a main benefit of farming and a lack of financial reward as its main drawback. Overall, conventional farmers report more stress in their lives although they also view themselves in a caretaker role for the land more than do the organic farmers. In contrast, organic farmers report more satisfaction with their lives, a greater concern for living ethically, and a stronger perception of community. Finally, both groups are willing to have their rights limited (organic farmers somewhat more so) but they do not trust the government to do so.
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Farmers' Attitudes about Farming and the
Environment: A Survey of Conventional and
Organic Farmers
School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan
430 East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1115 USA
College of Natural Resources
University of Wisconsin Stevens Point
Stevens Point, Wisconsin 54481-3897 USA
School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan
430 East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1115 USA
Farmers have been characterized as people whose ties to the
land have given them a deep awareness of natural cycles, appreciation
for natural beauty and sense of responsibility as stewards. At the same
time, their relationship to the land has been characterized as more
utilitarian than that of others who are less directly dependent on its
bounty. This paper explores this tension by comparing the attitudes and
beliefs of a group of conventional farmers to those of a group of organic
farmers. It was found that while both groups reject the idea that a farm-
er's role is to conquer nature, organic farmers were significantly more
supportive of the notion that humans should live in harmony with nature.
Organic farmers also reported a greater awareness of and appreciation
for nature in their relationship with the land. Both groups view
independence as a main benefit of farming and a lack of finaneial reward
as its main drawback. Overall, conventional farmers report more stress
in their lives although they also view themselves in a caretaker role for
the land more than do the organic farmers. In contrast, organic farmers
report more satisfaction with their lives, a greater concern for living
ethically, and a stronger perception of community. Finally, both groups
are willing to have their rights limited (organic farmers somewhat more
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1996, 9(2), 123-143
124 S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
so) but they do not trust the government to do so.
Keywords: environmental attitudes, organic farming, environmental
Until recently, the United States has been a fundamentally agrarian society. Be-
cause of this, agriculture has always been central in debates about land-use ethics.
The agrarian tradition and the land ethic comprise two distinct and conflicting
threads of thought regarding agriculture. The first is rooted in Thomas Jefferson's
concept of a stable democracy of yeoman farmers, where "... those who labor in the
earth are the chosen people of God... whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit
for substantial and genuine virtue" (Meine, 1987; Jefferson in Peterson, 1991: 293).
The second philosophical thread may have been born when humans initiated a
struggle with nature by purposely cultivating certain plant species as crops (Wojcik,
1989). The American tradition of mythicizing this struggle, and sanctioning the ex-
ploitation of natural resources, began with the pioneers. However, almost concur-
rently, some writers and philosophers began questioning the ethics of gaining do-
minion over nature. This philosophy was initiated by Tocqueville and Cooper,
justified by Darwin, articulated poetically by the transcendentalists and refined to
a science by Aldo Leopold. Contemporary literature- both philosophical and scien-
tific-has attempted to define further and even operationalize these competing
While the tension between these two traditions may be abstract, its impact is not.
These competing philosophies have become encoded in our language and have
formed the foundations of how Americans think about and act toward the environ-
ment (Peterson, 1991). Today, these confl/cting philosophies are at the root of a policy
debate regarding the sanctity of private property, the value of family farms, and the
effectiveness of agricultural education and incentive programs for farmers.
Jeffersonian Agrarianism and the American Frontier
Agrarian sentiments can be traced as far back as Aristotle and Cicero, but Thomas
Jefferson is the best known American exponent of these ideals (Molnar and Duffy,
1987). Jefferson believed agriculture was fundamental to the American way of life,
and that small landholders were civilization's caretakers (Peterson, 1991; Little,
1985). An important part of the agrarian or Jeffersonian creed is that farmers have
a right to use the land as they please, and that society's and individual property
owners' interests are one and the same (Bultena et al., 1981). The French-bern Amer-
ican St. John Crevecoeur also wrote idealistically of the virtues of agricultural life
in America. As a farmer, he was proud to be part of a community of"freeholders, the
possessors of the soil they cultivate, members of the government they obey, and the
framers of their own laws by means of their representative" (Crevecoeur,
125 Farmers' Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
The agrarian values espoused by Jefferson and Crevecoeur also formed the basis
of rugged individualism in the west (Molnar and Duffy, 1987), where the pioneers
were pitted against nature in a struggle for their very survival. As Alexis de Toc-
queville observed in
Democracy in America,
the pioneers lived too close to the wilder-
ness to appreciate it; their main concern was the utility of the land (Nash, 1982).
Wherever the pioneers "... encountered wild country they viewed it through utili-
tarian spectacles: trees became lumber, prairies farms, and canyons the sites of hy-
droelectric dams" (Nash, 1982). Utilitarianism was also the prevailing political
theme of the time. In his 1830 inaugural address, Andrew Jackson asked, "what good
man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand sav-
ages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms?"
(Nash, 1982: 41).
The Land Ethic
Aldo Leopold is though.t of as the first to write explicitly about a land ethic, espe-
cially in farming. Because his essays combined the sensitivity of a romantic with the
logic of a scientist, his influence in encouraging a new relationship between humans
and the land was arguably more profound than that of his predecessors (Nash, 1982).
Leopold was educated in the tradition of utilitarianism at the Yale Forestry School
and in the U.S. Forest Service (Hargrove and Callicott, 1990). However, as his career
progressed and his philosophy developed, Leopold rejected utilitarianism and em-
braced aesthetics.
Sometimes I think that ideas, like men, can become dictators. We
Americans have so far escaped regimentation by our rulers, but have we
escaped regimentation by our own ideas? I doubt if there exists today a
more complete regimentation of the human mind than that
accomplished by our self-imposed doctrine of ruthless utilitarianism.
(Leopold in Meine, 1987: 49)
To replace the ruthless utilitarianism born of the frontier experience, Leopold
proposed a new ethic to govern humanity's relationship with the land. He argued
for the intrinsic rights of all species, and against the Jeffersonian idea that private
property was enough to ensure sustainable land use. "In short," Leopold wrote, "a
land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community
to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also
respect for the community as such" (Leopold, 1949: 204). Leopold's philosophy of the
land ethic developed over a lifetime, but it became focused in one parsimonious state-
ment: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty
of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise" (Leopold, 1949: xxvi).
Leopold's holistic philosophy was as radical as any that preceded him, yet he did
not reject the concept of agriculture outright. In fact, Leopold was a farmer in his
later years. Regardless of his motivation, Leopold paid special attention to the role
of farming in humanity's relationship with nature (Meine, 1987). Leopold believed
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
the "rightness" of farming depended on the farmer (Meine, 1987). He identified two
opposing philosophies of farm life. According to one philosophy, "the farm is a food-
factory, and the criterion of its success is salable products." According to the second
philosophy, "the farm is a place to live, and the criterion of success is a harmonious
balance between plants, animals, and people; between the domestic and the wild;
between utility and beauty" (Leopold, 1949 in Meine, 1987: 51). Forty years later,
Wojcik defined the two principles of agriculture as: farming strictly for the money
and farming for a good life (Wojcik, 1989).
The Legacy: Conflicting Views of Agriculture
Remarkably, the conflicting images of agriculture preserved in our literary tradition
have co-existed in the national psyche for over two centuries. This cultural tradition
of simultaneously mythicizing the farmer as steward and the pioneer as conqueror
has leR a legacy of internal confict for farmers and non-farmers. An adversarial re-
lationship between environmentalists and agricultural producers has also emerged
from this tradition.
Indeed, both the frontier myth of the pioneer as the creator of civilization and
the agrarian myth of the farmer as steward are alive and well in contemporary Amer-
ican thought (Peterson, 1991; Nash, 1982; Piasecki, 1982; Bultena et al., 1981; Lewi-
sohn, Ludwig in Crevecoeur, 1904). Although the children and grandchildren of the
pioneers began to sense the ethical and aesthetic values of wilderness, the prejudice
against wilderness is deeply embedded in American history and continues to in-
fluence people's attitudes (Nash, 1982). The farmer is the living example of pioneer
spirit: "Just as the frontiersman cleared a trail for civilization to follow, today's
farmer recivilizes the land year after year, dredging sustenance for city dwellers
from the soil. Each season brings renewed encroachment from 'wild' plants or ani-
mals, and each season farmers fight back with sophisticated tools provided by the
civilization they make possible" (Peterson, 1991: 298).
If asked, "Is there something special about farmers and the farm way of life?" and
then separately, "Do you think agriculture is contributing to this country's en-
vironmental problems?" many Americans would not have to think long before re-
sponding "Of course and, well, yes." It is increasingly common to see publications
such as a 1982 U.S. Department of Commerce report titled "Diverging Interests in
Soil Conservation and Water Quality: Society vs. the Farmer" (Crosson, 1982). At
the same time, the country's romance with farming is easily seen. In New York City,
people pack the farmers' markets, eager for contact with the farmer and thereby a
connection to the earth and the labor that produces sustenance. As one buyer puts
it, "When you buy this food.., you get the sense that life is still good, that life makes
sense" (Hall, 1992). This somewhat romantic view of farmers even softens criticism
about their behaviour. As Westmacott (1983: 14) observes, "In view of the history of
land exploitation one might expect Americans to have a deep distrust of farmers but
it isn't so. Perhaps it is because of belief in the ethic that land ownership includes
the right to use or misuse the land... It is ironic that in the United States, where
there has never been a tradition of conservation farming, the farmer is trusted as
127 Farmers " Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
the steward of the rural landscape."
These conflicting images of farming may have been internalized by the farmers
themselves, creating what Peterson (1991) calls a dysfunctional perspective toward
conservation. She argues that farmers simultaneously see themselves as stewards-
with a duty to care for the soil-and frontiersmen-with a responsibility to manipu-
late and control the soil. These conflicting values constantly compete for pre-emi-
nence within the farmer. Efforts to encourage conservation often confound this
struggle by failing to take into account farmers' conflicting motives (Peterson, 1991).
Despite the hold agriculture has on the nation's collective imagination, the rela-
tionship between agricultural and environmental groups today is far from a ro-
mance. The contemporary environmental movement's moral foundation is the
minority tradition of thinkers like Leopold, not the agrarianism of Jefferson (Cai-
licott, 1987; Flader, 1987; Stegner, 1985; Nash, 1987). Although it may be changing,
the movement's traditional followers have also been a minority of young, wealthy
urbanites (Nash, 1982). Philosophically, the division has been between those who
argue for appreciation and preservation ('beauty," as Leopold would call it) versus
those who advocate utilization of natural resources (Bultena et al., 1982; Hendee,
1969; Nash, 1982). In a nation divided between those who depend on the harvesting
of natural resources for their livelihoods, and those who work in industries far re-
moved from the natural environment, the resiliency of this historic argument is un-
derstandable, if unfortunate.
Exploring Farmers' Values and Beliefs
It would be useful, then, to examine how these competing philosophies express them-
selves in modern farmers values and beliefs. For only if we fully understand the
attitudes and motives of farmers can we ever hope to promote more environmen-
tally sound agriculture. Numerous studies have concluded that farmers are gener-
ally less concerned about the environment than non-farmers, but the variation
among farmers is great (Buttel et al., 1981). Only a few studies have attempted to
explain this variation by examining the basic beliefs and values of conventional and
alternative agriculturists (Beus and Dunlap, 1991; Harris et al., 1980; Buttel and Gil-
lespie, 1988).
Beus and Dunlap (1990; 1991) suggest that the fundamental rift between sup-
porters and critics of modern industrialized agriculture is rooted in conflicting
worldviews. They have measured the two perspectives- the "alternative agriculture
paradigm" and the "conventional agriculture paradigm"- using six dimensions. The
dimensions included Domination of Nature vs. Harmony with Nature, and Exploi-
tation vs. Restraint. In their study to determine what factors discriminate between
known groups of farmers, the alternative agriculturists differed significantly from
conventional agriculturists and a statewide farmer sample on all items measured,
with the alternative agriculturists tending toward the "alternative agriculture par-
adigm." The greatest discrepancy was found on items measuring whether farming
is first and foremost a business or a way of life, whether agriculture is a major or
minor cause of ecological problems, and whether farming involves trying to imitate
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
nature or overcome nature's limits.
Although Beus and Dunlap's findings support the theory that alternative and
conventional farmers have fundamentally different values and beliefs, conventional
growers are not uniformly anti-environmental. In Molnar and Duffy's (1987) study,
farmers generally agreed that "farming involves understanding and working with
nature." Most British farmers interviewed by Carr and Tait (1991) had favourable
attitudes toward conservation when it was discussed in general terms. Anderson's
(1990) research revealed that conventional farmers are deeply concerned about the
potential effects of groundwater pollution on their families' health. However, But-
tel et al. (1981) found conventional farmers to he less concerned about agricultural
chemical pollution than alternative farmers. Based on their findings that concern
with agricultural chemical pollution and concern with soil erosion are virtually in-
dependent, Buttel et al. (1981) concluded that "agrarian environmentalism" is not a
singular construct or dimension.
This paper builds from this previous research by exploring two main themes.
First, we hypothesize that beth organic and conventional farmers demonstrate an
appreciation of nature in a general sense, and view particular signs of nature as im-
pertant to their farming practices. Second, we expect that organic and conventional
farmers exhibit fundamentally different values with regard to the land. Specifically,
we expect conventional farmers to embrace the frontier mentality that humans
should overcome nature, and the Jeffersonian belief in the rights of landholders. We
expected organic farmers to believe in living harmoniously with nature and to be
less concerned with their rights as landholders.
A personal interview was administered to a sample group of 25 farmers in south-
eastern Michigan. A list of farmers' names and addresses was purchased from the
Washtenaw County office of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (previously
the Soil Conservation Service). The list included all those individuals who were farm
owners and/or farm operators in the county, and these were considered to be "con-
ventional" in their farming practices. Twenty-four names were chosen at random.
The organic farmers' names and addresses were derived from the 1991 roster of the
Southeast Chapter of the Organic Growers of Michigan (OGM). "Organic" farmers
are defined, for the purposes of this study, as "farmers who avoid use of any syn-
thetic or manufactured substances in growing their crops and managing their land"
(Esseks et al., 1990). All the organic growers listed in the OGM roster with addresses
within or near Washtenaw County were contacted to be interviewed.
A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used. For the quan-
titative method (covered in the first three tables discussed below), groups of five-
point Likert scale statements were examined using factor analysis and the t-test
statistic. The remainder of the findings were derived from the qualitative analysis
of standardized, open-ended questions. Following a pre-test of the survey instru-
ment, the farmers were contacted by letter to explain the study and to invite their
participation. Mailed at the end of March, the letter was then followed by a phone
129 Farmers" Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
call to determine agreement about being interviewed and to set up a meeting time
and place. Interviews occurred during an eight week period, from April through
June. A total of 39 farmers were asked to participate. Of these, some farmers de-
dined to be interviewed or were retired from farming. The final sample size was 25
farmers, of whom 13 were conventional and 12 were organic farmers.
As recommended by Patton (1990), the qualitative analysis was performed in two
parts: a descriptive case study of each farmer, and a cross-case interpretation of farm
operators' responses to each open-ended question. The case study provides a descrip-
tion of each farmer; a profile constructed from their responses and the interviewer's
strong impressions of the interview as a whole. The cross-case interpretation was
based on a series of categories derived from the data. The categories were created
from patterns found in responses to each question, with an emphasis on indigenous
concepts (concepts specifically named by the participants, such as "Enjoying being
outdoors"). Categories were constructed such that they were internally homogenous
(i.e.the data in a category clearly belonged together) and externally heterogeneous
(i.e.the categories were clearly different from each other) (Patton, 1990). In ana-
lysing the data, concepts that were included with markedly different frequency in
responses given by organic and conventional farmers, and concepts that were highly
endorsed by both groups of farmers, were reported as findings of the study.
Demographic Profile of the Sample
The farmers surveyed differed in terms of their years farming, farm size, land
tenure, and number of crops. They were similar along several other dimensions, in-
cluding age, education, and percentage of income derived from farming in 1991. Mean
ages were 46 and 50 years for organic and conventional farmers, respectively. The
lack of any significant difference between the ages of the organic and conventional
farmers is consistent with Napier and Forster's (1982) conclusion that age has no
influence on a farmer s inclination to adopt new conservation practices. The typical
farmer in this study had some college education, but less than a college degree.
Roughly half of the income from the farm families studied came from farming (43.6%
for organic farmers and 58.2% for conventional farmers).
There was a significant difference between the two groups with regard to the
number of years farming, with conventional farmers having a mean of 30.2 years
and organic farmers having a mean of 15.5 years (t = 2.98,
22.9, p <_ .01). The
findings regarding farm structure also reveal several differences within this sample.
The data suggest the organic farmers typically had smaller farms with greater crop
diversity than conventional farmers. Conventional farmers also differed signifi-
cantly from organic farmers in the number of acres owned. While conventional
farmers had a mean of 229.4 acres owned, organic farmers had a mean of 74.1 acres
owned (t = 2.58,
16.5, p < .05). Similarly, conventional farmers differed signifi-
cantly (t = 2.17,
13.7, p < .05) from organic farmers in the numbers of acres
leased; conventional farmers leased more acres (mean = 482) than organic farmers
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
(mean = 65). Organic farmers and conventional farmers also differed significantly
in the number of crops grown in 1991 (t = 2.92,
df= 20.1, p <_ .01); organic farmers
grew a greater variety of crops (mean=6.25) than did conventional farmers
(mean = 3.92}.
For the most part, the conventional farmers studied were from a family tradition
of farming, while organic farmers tended to be relatively new to farming as a career.
All conventional farmers were from families that had almost always been involved
in farming. In contrast, only 25% of the organic farmers were from such a back-
Frontier Mentality Attitudes
Using factor analysis, four categories were derived from a series of 14 "frontier men-
tality" questions. I These include a Harmony category, a Disaster category, a Right
category, and an Order category (see Table 1). Pairwise t-tests indicate that higher
means for the Harmony category and the Disaster category suggests that farmers
were inclined to agree more strongly with the statements within those categories.
The Harmony and Disaster categories did not differ significantly from one another
(p -< .05), suggesting that farmers tended to answer similarly to these statements.
Likewise, the means for the Right and Order categories were not significantly differ-
ent from one another (p -< .05).
Alpha values were also calculated for the four new "frontier mentality" attitude
categories (see Table D. Alpha is Crenbach's (1951) coefficient of internal consistency
and reflects the degree of cohesiveness among a group of items. Two of the catego-
ries (i.e. Disaster, Right) have only one item and, therefore, no alpha value. Har-
mony had five items and an alpha value of 0.82, indicating that the category is very
coherent. The Order category has three items and a relatively low alpha of 0.49 which
indicates the items are not as tightly connected.
Comparisons between organic and conventional farmers were made with regard
to the aforementioned categories using a Student's t-test (see Table 2). Organic
farmers had a significantly higher mean for the Harmony category than conven-
tional farmers (t ~-4.17,
df= 21.2, p - .0001), suggesting that organic farmers en-
dorsed the statements within that category more strongly. Organic and conventional
farmers did not differ significantly with regard to the Disaster, Right, and Order
Among organic farmers, pairwise t-tests indicate that the mean responses for the
Harmony and Order categories were significantly different from one another at p <-
.05. Although their responses for the Harmony, Disaster, and Right categories were
not significantly different (p _< .05), all three of these items varied significantly from
the Order category. And while organic farmers mean responses to the Right and
Order categories did not differ atp. < 05 their responses to the Harmony and Right
categories barely missed being significantly different (p <_ .06). All pairwise mean
comparisons among conventional farmers' responses were not significant at p. <
05. Thus, while the conventional farmers' responses were generally close to neutral
for all four categories, organic farmers tended to endorse Harmony and Disaster
131 Farmers ' Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
Table 1
Categories of '!frontier mentality" attitudes
Category Name and Items Included Mean (a) S.D. Alpha
HARMONY 3.72 a 0.78 0.82
- Humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive
- Humankind was created to rule over the rest of nature (b)
- Farm operators do not have the right to farm land in a manner
that will cause damage to the resource
- Humans have the power to improve upon nature, by
cultivating it and making it productive (b)
- Humans need not adapt to the natural environment because
they can remake it to suit their needs (b)
3.75 a 1.11
- When humans interfere with nature it often produces
disastrous consequences
3.00 b 1.20
- Humans have the right to modify the natural environment
to suit their needs
3.03 b 0.77 0.49
- Agriculture brings order to land that was once wilderness
- No one has the right to tell farmers what practices to use
on their land
- The balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset
(a) Scale was 1-- strongly disagree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree.
(b) Item scale reversed for analysis.
Means not sharing a superscript are significantly different from one another atp < .05.
Table 2
Mean scores on "frontier mentality" attitudes categories
Organic Conventional T-Test
Category Farmers (a) Farmers (b) Statistic
Mean = 4.24 a 3.24 t = 4.17,
df= 21.2,
HARMONY S.D. = 0.66 0.53 p_ .0001
Mean = 4.09 a 3.46
DISASTER S.D. = 0.83 1.27 not significant
Mean ~ 3.20 a, b 2.83
RIGHT S.D. ffi 1.32 1.12 not significant
Mean -- 2.81 b 3.24
ORDER S.D. = 0.85 0.65 not significant
(a) Means not sharing a superscript are significantly different from one another atp _< .05, with
Harmony and Right significantly different at p <- .06.
(b) All pairwise mean comparisons are not significant at p- .05
(means=-4.24 and 4.09, respectively) more strongly than Right (mean = 3.20) and
Order (mean = 2.81).
S. Sullivan, K McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
Table 3
Mean scores on farmer's appreciation of nature items
Stem Question / Item (a)
How closely do you observe
the following on your farm?
Mean =
S.D. =
Mean = 3.75 3.69
CLOUD TYPES S.D. = 0.96 0.85 not significant
Mean ffi 4.83 4.69
SOIL QUALITY S.D. = 0.39 0.48 not significant
Mean = 4.33 3.77
INSECT POPULATIONS S.D. ffi 1.15 1.01 not significant
Mean ffi 4.50 4.00
WILDLIFE S.D. ffi 0.67 0.91 not significant
Mean = 4.75 4.08 t ffi 1.88, df= 19.1
CHANGE OF SEASONS S.D.= 0.62 1.12 p < 0.08
Mean ffi 4.83 4.54
SOIL EROSION S.D. = 0.58 0.52 not significant
Mean = 4.08 4.38
WATER QUALITY S.D. ffi 1.38 0.77 not significant
(a) Scale was lfnot at all, 2ffinot very closely, 3ffineutral, 4=semewehat closely, 5=very
(b) Due to the lack of varianes among conventional farmers, the t-test statistic could not be cal-
Appreciation of Nature
The respondents were asked about some of the signs of nature that matter to them
as farmers. Table 3 shows the results from Student's t-test analyses with regard to
eight Appreciation of Nature items measured using a Likert scale. Both organic and
conventional farmers scored relatively high on all eight items, indicating that those
signs of nature are clearly noticed on their farms. There was no significant differ-
ence between the organic and conventional responses with regard to Cloud Types,
Soil Quality, Insect Populations, Wildlife, Soil Erosion, or Water Quality atp --_ .05.
Given the lack of variance among conventional farmers with regard to Rainfall (i.e.
8]] conventional farmers answered "very closely"), it was not possible to calculate the
t-test statistics. The organic farmers also scored high on this item (mean=4.65).
With regard to the Change of Season item, the analysis suggested a possible, al-
though statistically non-significant, trend for organic farmers to be more sensitive
to changes of seasons than conventional farmers (t = 1.88,
19.1, p _< 0.08).
Farmers ' Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
Table 4
Attitudes regarding the benefits of farming
Stem Question / Item Organic Farmers Conventional Farmers
What do you like most
about farming?.
Most Common responses of all Farmers
Benefits of Farming
When asked what they liked most about farming, the qualitative analysis suggested
that farmers from both sample groups responded similarly (see Table 4). 2 Farmers
typically gave more than one answer, so it was not possible to discern which of the
themes cited was
Two themes distinguished the organic from conventional growers. Among or-
ganic growers, "living ethically" was cited as what they liked most about farming
with the same frequency (33%) as "nature" and "being outdoors," second only to ~in-
dependence (50%). As one organic farmer explained, "Farming allows me to be of
service to the earth, contributing to a healing process." In contrast, only one (8%)
conventional grower mentioned the ethics or spirituality of farming as one of the
things liked most. Additionally, one-fourth (25%) of the organic growers made ref-
erence to enjoying the farming community- sharing and participating with farmers
and the people who purchase their products. None of the conventional farmers men-
tioned community in their response. In contrast, heritage and identity, mentioned
by 15% of the conventional farmers received no mention by the organic farmers.
The most frequent response for both groups was the independence farming al-
lows and "being one's own bess" (52% of all the farmers interviewed). Over one-third
of all the farmers (36%) referred to some aspect of nature in their response while an
equally common response (36%) was being outdoors. Nearly a quarter of all farmers
(24%) expressed pride in the products produced. There were a couple of other items
at a much lower level of endorsement. Twenty percent liked the process itself, "just
seeing things grow." The same number (20%) enjoyed the sense of control farming
134 S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
Table 5
Attitudes about leaving their farms
Stem Question / Item Organic Farmers Conventional Farmers
If you had to leave your farm,
what would you miss the most?
Most Common Responses of all Farmers:
Hindsight: Farmers' Attitudes about Leaving Their Farms
Farmers were asked what they would miss the most if they had to leave their farms
(see Table 5). Logically, one would expect farmers would miss the same things they
had stated they liked most in their responses to the earlier question discussed above.
In some respects, the answers did correspond. In general, however, responses to this
question were more poetic than responses to the previous one, with more descrip-
tive references to nature and less emphasis on individual actions as a farmer. Na-
ture was the most frequently occurring concept in responses from organic and con-
ventional farmers (28%), and was said with almost equal frequency by both (33% of
organic farmers and 23% of conventional farmers). Independence was also highly
endorsed by both groups of farmers answering this question (20%), but appeared
with less frequency than it had in response to the earlier question. Likewise, the
sense of control over one's destiny and resources that had been important to both
groups of farmers in answering what they liked about farming was almost
completely absent from their responses regarding what they would miss about farm-
ing (17% of organic growers and 23% of conventional growers liked the control farm-
ing gives them; 8% of organic growers and none of conventional growers would miss
the control). Essentially, what farmers in general like most about farming is the in-
dependence it gives them, but what they imagine they would miss most is nature.
In addition, none of the themes that distinguished the two groups of farmers on
the earlier question was prominent when farming was viewed in hindsight. For one-
third (33%) of the organic farmers, "living ethically" was one of the things they liked
most about farming. When farming was viewed in hindsight, however, only 8% of
the organic farmers mentioned they would miss "living ethically" if they had to leave
their farms. This finding makes sense because leaving the farm would not prevent
a person from living an ethical lifestyle. Also in contrast to their responses to the
earlier question, none of the organic growers mentioned the farming community as
Farmers" Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
Table 6
Attitudes regarding the drawbacks of farming
Stem Question / Item Organic Farmers ConventionalFarmers
What do you like least
about farming?.
25% 8%
8% 31%
8% 23%
Most Common Responses of all Farmers:
something they would miss if they no longer farmed.
In response to this question, the two groups of farmers distinguished themselves
by how they depicted the setting they would miss. Organic farmers were most likely
to respond that they would miss nature, the countryside and being outdoors (33%,
33% and 25%, respectively). Conventional farmers were most likely to respond that
they would miss nature (23%) and the open spaces (23%). while organic farmers
frequently made reference to the quiet, peace and fresh air of the country, conven-
tional farmers were more likely to talk about just being outdoors and to make specific
reference to the "open spaces."
Drawbacks of Farming
As with the benefits of farming question, farmers from both groups particularly dis-
liked one aspect of farming (see Table 6). Over half (52%) of all farmers cited lack
of financial reward as the main drawback of farming. While this was the most com-
mon response given by both groups of farmers, it was mentioned with greater
frequency by the conventional growers (62%) than by the organic growers (42%).
An additional 23% of the conventional growers responded that the expense for in-
puts, equipment, etc. was what they liked least about farming. Only 8% of the or-
ganic growers gave this response. In total, 85% of the conventional farmers men-
tioned some sort of financial consideration, compared with 50% of organic farmers.
Among conventional growers, the stress associated with the unexpected (such as
weather) was the next most frequently cited drawback of farming. Almost one-third
(31%) of conventional growers included "stress" in their response, compared to only
8% of organic growers. After "lack of financial reward," the next most frequent re-
among organic growers (25%) involved equipment (maintenance, noise, etc.).
While disliking farming equipment was not unique to organic growers (8% of con-
ventional growers mentioned equipment), it was only the organic farmers who men-
tioned having considered draft animals as a superior alternative. One conventional
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
Table 7
Attitudes regarding satisfaction with farm life
Stem Question / Item Organic Farmers Conventional Farmers
How satisfying would you say your
life has been compared to other
people you know? What makes it
more or less satisfying?.
Most Common Responses of all Farmers:
SATISFYING (but can't 56%
judge others' lives)
farmer's response summed up many of the farmers' concerns: "... expeuse- I don't
know why I worry about money so much. Probably because I don't have any. The
unexpected-like breakdowns and the weather. Trying to get everything to work
right is quite a job. You expect it, but it never happens."
Satisfaction with Farm Life
Responses to the question, "How satisfying would you say your life has been com-
pared to other people you know?" were almost unanimously positive (see Table 7).
Most farmers from both groups (56%) expressed satisfaction with their lives, but
were reluctant to judge how satisfied other people they knew were. About one-fourth
of the farmers (24%) felt their lives were more satisfying than others they knew,
though this response was more common among organic farmers (33% for organic
farmers and 15% for conventional farmers). An equally frequent response (24%) was
simply that they were doing what they wanted to do.
Although answers for both groups were similar, conventional farmers were
generally less enthusiastic in their responses. For example, whereas over one-fourth
of the organic growers used more positive terms like "luckf and ~fortunate ~ to de-
Farmers " Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
Table 8
Attitudes regarding relationship with the land
Stem Question / Item Organic Farmers Conventional Farmers
Do you believe farmers have a
different relationship with the land
that those who don't farm? How?
Most Common Responses of all Farmers:
scribe how they felt about their occupations, almost one-third of the conventional
farmers used somewhat less positive terms like ~satisfactory" or "fairly happy" to de-
scribe their lives as farmers. Some conventional farmers even seemed to have re-
signed themselves to farming. Paradoxically, while they valued the independence of
farming, they resented the lack of freedom and leisure associated with their occupa-
tion. Independence and lack of freedom seem to co-exist in farming and farmers'
minds, each an outcome of the enormous responsibility individual farmers bear for
the "success" of their operation. As one conventional farmer said, "I've got this am-
bivalence about it [farming]... There's some joy in it, but it's mostly just a resig-
nation that this is what I'm going to spend the rest of my life doing. Farming is very
unforgiving. I don't like not having the freedom." Additionally, financial considera-
seemed to factor differently into the satisfaction both groups felt with farm-
ing. For instance, nearly one-third (31%) of the conventional sample mentioned their
failure to achieve financial success as a factor negatively affecting their satisfaction
with their lives. In contrast, one-fourth (25%) of the organic farmers positively re-
lated not owing money on their farm to their personal satisfaction.
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
Farmers" Relationship with the Land
Farmers were asked if they believed farmers have a different relationship with the
land than those who don't farm (see Table 8). A majority of all farmers interviewed
(80% overall; 75% of organic farmers and 85% of conventional farmers) believed they
do have a different relationship with the land. All of the farmers interviewed believed
at least some
farmers have a different relationship with the land than non-farmers.
In explaining the difference between farmers and non-farmers, nearly one-third
(32%) of all farmers indicated that farmers have a greater awareness and apprecia-
tion of their surroundings than non-farmers. As one conventional farmer described
the relationship, 'Tee tend to admire nature more because we're closer to it. We pick
up on the little things. When other people go down the road and see a tree, we see
an oak or maple." This sense of awareness and appreciation was more often men-
tioned by organic farmers (42%) than by the conventional farmers (23%). A large
number (28%) also attributed the difference to farmers' seeing the land as their live-
lihood- something they
to grow crops and earn a living.
Organic farmers were more likely than conventional farmers to believe that farm-
ing is not a necessary prerequisite to appreciating the land. One-fourth of them
(25%) acknowledged that some non-farmers also have a very special relationship
with the land, whereas only 15% of the conventional farmers included this in their
response. This belief in the primacy of farming could be accounted for by conven-
tional farmers' endorsement of two additional concepts in explaining the difference
between farmers and non-farmers. First, 38% of conventional farmers specifically
mentioned the soil in answering this question. They frequently made references to
touching the soil- actually making contact with it. Only 8% of the organic farmers
included "the soil" in their response. Second, 38% of the conventional farmers de-
fined farmers' relationship with the land as a caretaker role. They spoke of"protect-
ing ~ and "caring for" the land. Some even anthrepomorphized the land, comparing
it to a member of the family. Again, only 8% of the organic farmers made similar
Farmers' Conflicted Attitudes
The findings shown above help to explain the paradoxical nature of farmers atti-
tudes about farming. The farmers we interviewed have a strong appreciation for na-
ture and the rural environment. They view contact with nature as a benefit of farm-
ing, would miss this contact if they didn't farm, and generally believe that people
should live in harmony with nature. Being outdoors and experiencing nature were
the second most frequently cited benefits of farming. Perhaps more telling, nearly
all farmers we interviewed mentioned some aspect of nature as what they would
miss most if they stopped farming. In addition, they believe that farmers have a
different relationship with the land from that of non-farmers, with a greater aware-
ness and appreciation of natural phenomena. This appreciation was very apparent
139 Farmers' Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
in the interviews, as the most laconic of farmers waxed poetic in describing what
would be missed about farming. Even the conventional farmer whose overall score
on conservation practices was the lowest of the sample spoke mystically of the
change of seasons, recounting stories of perfectly-coloured trees observed while
harvesting. Most of these people report being satisfied with their lives as farmers.
These factors support the notion of a land ethic in operation whereby farmers see
themselves as stewards of the rural landscape.
Our hypothesis that all farmers would appreciate and attend to nature was drawn
primarily from the philosophical and historical literature, rather than empirical
data. The image of farmers as people living close to nature is deeply embedded in
several philosophical traditions in the U.S., but little empirical research has looked
at how closely farmers live with nature. This study supports Molnar and Duffy s
(1987) findings that farmers see themselves as understanding and working with na-
ture. While orientation towards nature has frequently been considered to fall on a
spectrum between utilitarian and appreciative (Bultena et al., 1982; Tremblay and
Dunlap, 1978), research efforts have focused on measuring utilitarianism rather
than appreciation. For example, Van Liere and Dunlap (1981), Arcury et al. (1986),
and Buttel and Flinn (1974; 1978) all concluded that urbanism was positively related
to environmental concern. They attributed these findings to the utilitarian orienta-
tion of rural residents, who are more likely to be engaged in extractive occupations
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1996, 9(2~, 93-113
propriate characterization of environmental orientation.
At the same time, the farmers in this study view independence as a main bene-
fit of farming. In addition, they view a lack of financial reward as a main drawback
of farming. The simultaneous force of an independent spirit and a financial hard-
ship forces important compromises in the stewardship ideal. The notion of the family
farm is an important aspect of American heritage and encompasses those values that
many believe to be what this country stands for-rugged individualism and self-
sufficiency to name but two. Yet, with the increase in large-scale, capital-intensive
agriculture we have seen this family farm ideal threatened, questioned, and debated.
This ambivalence is reflected here in the way farmers are simultaneously vulnera-
ble to outside market forces and persistent in their farming independence. As Con-
stance et al. point out (1990), the historical farming problem of excess supply, and
the associated problems of low prices and unstable incomes, have shifted to prob-
lems of increased financial risk from incurred debt, product price instability, high
inflation from input costs, and concentrated input and product markets. Con-
sequently, farmers are faced with a variety of difficult decisions, coupled with a need
to understand and often adapt to the changes and new technologies inherent in mod-
ern agriculture. It is no wonder that farmers attitudes about farming as a profes-
sion and a lifestyle are complex.
Organic and Conventional Farmers
This study suggests some important differences between conventional and organic
S. Sullivan, E. McCann, R. De Young and D. Erickson
farmers in the way they relate to farming and the natural environment. We pre-
dicted these two groups of farmers would have fundamentally different values with
regard to the land and indeed this is supported by our results. Regarding the
economic factors discussed above, conventional farmers report more stress in their
lives. They have a greater concern for the financial aspects of farming and report
stress as a major drawback of farming. In describing satisfaction with their lives,
they mention financial considerations as a worry more than do the organic farmers.
On the other hand, the conventional farmers view themselves in a caretaker role for
the land more than do the organic farmers, this is illustrated most vividly by their
greater concern for the soil as a resource.
However, the organic farmers showed a somewhat different profile. They re-
ported a greater concern for living ethically, a stronger perception of community,
and more satisfaction with their lives. Their awareness and appreciation for nature
and their relationship with the land were even stronger than among the conven-
tional farmers. We had hypothesized that conventional farmers would embrace the
frontier mentality that humans should overcome nature, and the Jeffersonian belief
in the rights of landholders. We also predicted that organic farmers would believe
in living harmoniously with nature and be less concerned with their rights as land-
holders. These predictions are supported by our findings on the frontier mentality
portion of the survey. While both groups somewhat reject the frontier mentality of
conquering nature, organic farmers were significantly more supportive of the idea
that humans should live in harmony with nature.
Finally, we also predicted that conventional farmers would feel more strongly
about their rights as landholders than organic farmers. The data generally support
this prediction. Organic farmers are not very concerned about their absolute rights,
while conventional farmers are basically neutral on this issue. On a more practical
level, qualitative analysis indicated organic and conventional farmers in agreement
that, regardless of their rights as property holders, government should have only a
limited role in regulating farming practices. Organic farmers generally agreed that
farmers do not have the right to damage the land. In addition, they tended to dis-
agree with or were neutral about the statement that no one has the right to tell
farmers what to do. Conventional farmers means on both categories were only
slightly above neutral. Taken together, these findings suggest that organic farmers
are willing to have their rights limited but do not necessarily trust the government
to do so, while conventional farmers are less willing to have their rights limited and
also distrust government limitations.
In conclusion, no simple pattern of attitudes or beliefs characterizes the farmers
in this study. Instead we are left with a tension at the level of individual farmers
that mirrors the broader cultural and philosophical debate over the interaction of
environmental and agricultural values and beliefs. And while organic and conven-
tional farmers do differ, their similarities may be as, or more, important. It would
seem that promoting environmentally sound agriculture need not target only one
subgroup of farmers.
Farmers' Attitudes about Farming and the Environment
The authors thank the farmers interviewed for their insightful comments and ac-
knowledge funding support from the University of Michigan School of Natural Re-
sources and Environment.
A copy of the survey instrument can be obtained by contacting the third author at the
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 430 East Univer-
sity Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115.
All tables describing qualitative results are constructed using the same format. Concepts
that appear with markedly different frequency in responses given by organic and conven-
tional farmers are reported in the top portion of the tables. Concepts that appeared with
greater frequency in organic farmers' responses are reported first, followed by concepts
more common in conventional farmers' responses. When certain concepts were highly en-
dorsed by both groups of farmers, those concepts are reported in the lower portion of the
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... Besides a lack of information and education about organic farming, several other major challenges have also impeded farmers' organic practice adoption. Production and management challenges that have been consistently identified and have persisted over time include weed control; diseases and pest management; soil fertility; climatic risks; genetically-modified organism (GMO) contamination; and availability of organic inputs, labor, and machinery (Blobaum 1983;Constance and Choi 2010;Cranfield, Henson, and Holliday 2010;Hanson et al. 2004;Lockeretz 1997;Reaves and Rosenblum 2014;Sullivan et al. 1996;Wiegel 2009). Previous studies have frequently reported marketing challenges. ...
... Negative social pressures used to be a prominent challenge for organic farmers (Blobaum 1983;Cranfield, Henson, and Holliday 2010;Duram 1999Duram , 2000Lockeretz 1997). Many organic practitioners have criticized conventional industrialized agriculture in light of agroecological principles, and these ideas are usually ideologically important to them (Mccann et al. 1997;Sullivan et al. 1996). Organic farmers often see themselves as going against the dominant industrial approaches which promote climate change and have helped to contribute to conditions of public health risks (Grimberg et al. 2018;Wallace 2020). ...
This study surveyed 258 organic grain farmers in Iowa in the U.S. Midwest. We identified seven areas of challenges related to organic grain farming adoption: organic farming operations, marketing, policy, finance, inputs and information, social pressures, and land tenure. Respondents reported three key areas where extension programs were needed: education, research, and technical services. Regarding outreach formats, organic farmers preferred events where peers were featured or provided leadership, such as field days, one-on-one mentor programs, and farmer-to-farmer workshops. Results provided empirical evidence to support theoretical discussions and policy implications on issues related to adoption of organic grain farming.
... Further, 36% of organic farms were reported to use no-till or minimal till practices in 2019, compared to 24% of conventional farms identifying the use of these practices (USDA, 2017(USDA, , 2019. Other studies have documented that organic farmers have greater environmental awareness and concern for the environment than their conventional counterparts, as documented in several studies from across the globe (Dubgaard and Sorensen, 1988;Fisher, 1989;Sullivan et al., 1996;McCann et al., 1997;Fairweather, 1999). ...
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Introduction The transformation of our food system towards a more resilient agroecological framework is one of the most pressing needs faced by our global community. Understanding the use of multiple conservation practices is important in the development of research, education, and policy to accelerate their more widespread integration of into farming systems. Methods The aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary investigation of the trends regarding multiple practice adoption of conservation farming practices by conventional and organic farmers engaging with sustainable farming methods. Forty farmers were interviewed regarding their use of conservation practices, as well as their motivations, barriers, and future plans for new implementation and expansion of current practices. Results Farmers spontaneously identified cover crops and vegetation strips as the most frequently used conservation practices; however, upon more specific inquiry, we found that more than 50% of farmers used additional agroecological conservation practices including local crop varieties, intercropping, managed grazing, crop rotations, and no-till, with many farmers using multiple practices. Overall, we found no correlation of organic certification with the number of conservation practices implemented by farmers. The major motivations towards the adoption of practices included improved soil quality and profitability. Main identified barriers included financial means and risk, lack of knowledge, and access to resources. Farmers showed interest in further implementation of additional conservation practices, including expanded use of cover crops, tree plantings, and no-till practices. Discussion Further understanding complementarities, as well as differences in barriers and motivations, can contribute to the design of effective education strategies and financial incentives to promote the simultaneous implementation of agroecological conservation practices.
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... Estas perspectivas, también pueden detonar el trabajo colaborativo para el desarrollo local y que la actividad productiva se convierta en una economía sólida y pueda contribuir en el cuidado del ambiente (Willock et al. 2008). Asimismo, Sullivan et al. (1996) sostienen que, con la producción de alimentos orgánicos, por ejemplo, existe armonía con el medio en el que se produce y conciencia y aprecio por la naturaleza. ...
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p class="Default"> Background . The farmer and his family member are the main actors in the decision-making process for production unit operation (PU), due to the extensive knowledge they have about the production strategies and dynamics. Objective . Analyze the main factors that intervene in the making and construction of decisions for PU operation in dry tropic conditions. Methodology . The information was obtained through a structured survey to farmers of 61 PU of dual-purpose livestock (DP). The PUs were stratified based on the number of Total Livestock Units (TLU): Stratum 1 = UP of ≥ 5 and ≤ 43 TLU (E1), Stratum 2 = PU of ≥ 44 and ≤ 87 TLU (E2) and Stratum 3 = UP with more than 88 TLU (E3). The work consists of three sections: i. an analysis of the activity current situation (structural and socioeconomic), using descriptive statistics and budgets by activity; ii. an analysis of the PU structural changes from 2008-2013-2018 and, iii. an analysis using the Likert Scale of the farmers opinions and objectives on the activity. Results . PUs are characterized by the small families presence, with 58-year-old farmers (65% have primary and secondary education). The main income (81.44%) comes from livestock sale and although higher income is observed in large PUs, the unit margin per ha<sup>-1</sup> and cow<sup>-1</sup> is higher in small PUs. The participation of the family is fundamental in the decision-making process and the main objective of the farmer is the well-being of the family group, care of the environment in which they develop and maintaining the PU structure. Smaller PUs are dynamic and enthusiastic about structural changes. Implications . The work set the guidelines of the PU and identified the factors that intervene in the decision-making process, the viability, dynamics and permanence of livestock in the dry tropics. Conclusion . The family is essential to help for the farmer in the decision-making process. mainly in the health and nutrition of the herd, as well as in the sale and commercialization of products and, the maintenance of the structure of the PU and care of the environment in which they develop is the main objective. Keywords: cattle; dual purpose; dry tropics; family; decision making.</p
... In political science, civic responsibility refers to "a political member's belief that he or others should participate in the political process without regard to whether the political activity is worthwhile or costly [47]". A sense of responsibility is the subjective consciousness of the subject regarding the responsibility and is the emotion of the individual to fulfill their own moral obligations actively and seriously [48]. Political responsibility refers to the responsibility and obligation that citizens should assume for national and social development, which is the premise and motivation for citizens to do their own work well [49]. ...
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Based on a survey of 2343 rural residents in China, this paper adopts a binary logistic regression model as the analytical tool to study the impact of rural residents’ social network and sense of responsibility regarding their participation in environmental governance. The results show that the cost, frequency and scope of social network activities have positive and significant influences on resident participation in rural environmental governance. The cost of a social network is conducive to building a rural social network, enhancing the connection of interests and promoting the formation of a rural community. Extending social network objectives from family members to villagers can improve the cultural identity and emotional identity of rural residents. The increase in the frequency of social network activities can not only enhance trust among residents, but also reduce the cost of environmental governance mobilization. The scope of a social network acts as an inhibitor whereby social interaction beyond the scope of rural areas will reduce identification with rural emotions. The four dimensions, including responsibility cognition, responsibility will, responsibility emotion and responsibility behavior have significant influences on resident participation in rural environmental governance. Residents’ sense of responsibility plays the role of an introverted driving force for them to take part in rural environmental governance, which itself helps to overcome “non-participation” behaviors of “rational smallholders” to a certain extent. Furthermore, it endows rural environmental governance with resilience. So, it is of significance to enhance rural residents’ social networks and to improve rural residents’ cognition of collective responsibility.
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Organic farming has emerged as a sustainable and holistic approach to agriculture that addresses the dual concerns of human health and environmental well-being. These abstract highlights the multifaceted advantages of organic farming. It delves into reduced chemical exposure, nutrient-rich foods, biodiversity preservation, soil health, reduced water pollution, climate change mitigation, support for animal welfare, and community benefits. Organic farming minimizes synthetic chemical use, resulting in safer and more nutritious produce. It promotes biodiversity, protects soil health, reduces water pollution, and contributes to climate change mitigation. Moreover, it upholds ethical standards in animal welfare and strengthens local communities. As consumers increasingly prioritize these benefits, supporting organic farming becomes not only a choice for personal well-being but also a step towards a healthier and more sustainable future for all. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of our food choices impact on our health and the environment. One agricultural practice that has gained significant attention for its potential to address these concerns is organic farming. Organic farming is not just a trend; it is a sustainable and holistic approach to agriculture that prioritizes the health of the soil, the well-being of animals, and the health of consumers. In this article, we will explore the numerous benefits of organic farming for both human health and the environment.
This study is an attempt to identify the socioeconomic factors that affect farmers’ decision-making process regarding the adoption of organic farming. A total of 100 (50 organic and 50 conventional) farmers were interviewed and their demographic, socioeconomic and ecological behaviour differences were studied. The behavioural analysis identified education, environmental concerns and social benefits as the prominent drivers of organic farming, while lack of government support in marketing, managerial and technical spheres as major constraints to its adoption. The probit model confirms that farmers with a smaller size of holding who are educated, younger and practice diversified cropping are more inclined towards organic farming.
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Respondents in a 1979 survey of Iowa farm operators were divided in their attitudes on several land use planning issues, including whether or not government should undertake land use planning, what levels of government might be most appropriately involved in different planning activities, and the attractiveness of various programs for reducing the conversion of agricultural land to nonfarm uses. Age and education proved to be significantly related to several of the farmers' attitudes.-from Authors
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With the increased societal awareness of environmental issues, social scientists have expanded their examination of environmentally related topics. One component of this expansion has been the generation and growth of social theory which has the human-environment relationship at its core. This study is a further test of one of these theories, the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP). Using survey data, the relationship of the NEP to knowledge of environmentally relevant issues is examined. The results show ecological worldview as measured by the NEP scale has an independent influence on net environmental knowledge of other sociodemographic characteristics.
Differences in the land use orientations of farm operators and urbanites in Iowa were tested against the assumption that farmers have relatively stronger opposition to land use planning than do urbanities. Information was obtained in 1980 from statewide examples of farmers and residents of metropolitan areas. Two explanations of the assumed farm-urban differences were tested: 1) that they grow out of the differential ages and socioeconomic statuses of farm and city residents; and 2) that they are a function of a more exploitive attitude of farmers toward nature. As predicted, farmers differed significantly from urbanities in being less concerned about land use problems, less committed to public expenditures on land use matters, and in wanting to restrict public initiatives on land use matters to local government. These attitudes were not explained by farm-city differences in the respondents' ages, socioeconomic statuses, or environmental orientations. -Authors
This study is concerned with the factors that account for variation in the environmental attitudes of farmers. Two competing frameworks for the analysis-one from environmental attitudes research among the general public and the other form the emerging ecological critique of large-scale agriculture-are contrasted and used to develop rival hypotheses. The empirical analysis is based on survey data collected from random samples of farmers in New York State and Michigan. The results indicate that education, which is typically considered to be the most important variable in the environmental attitudes literature, bears little relation with three indicators of concern about general and agricultural environmental problems. Farm size is inversely related to these attitudinal indexes of environmental concern, consistent with the ecological critique of large-scale agriculture. -Authors
Surveys of attitudes to conservation on farms conducted between 1983 and 1985 in Bedfordshire showed farmers to be as sympathetic to the idea as conservationists, at a superficial level. However, detailed analysis of attitudes to specific conservation-related farm management practices such as hedge removal, using the theory of reasoned action as an investigative tool, revealed the deep-seated divisions which exist between the two groups. Correlations between farmers' attitudes and behaviour showed that attitudes to farm productivity, efficency and tidiness dominated management decisions to the exclusion of wildlife considerations. The importance of guiding attitude and behaviour change at a time of profound agricultural uncertainty, to avoid overt conflict between farmers and conservationists and promote conservation on farmland, is discussed.