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

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (Impact Factor: 0.94). 01/1996; 9(2):123-143. DOI: 10.1007/BF03055298


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.

    • "The first considers farmers as mass food producers and generators of profit attempting to overcome nature's limits (Beus and Dunlap 1990), while the second views farming as a way of life in which farmers balance nature and beauty with profit (Sullivan et al. 1996). Few studies have attempted to explain the differences between these two types of farmers by examining their basic attitudes, beliefs, and values (Migliore et al. 2014b; Sullivan et al. 1996; Marsden and Smith 2005; Willoch et al. 1999; Beus and Dunlap 1990; Buttel and Gillespie 1988). What emerges in these studies is a deep difference between farmers in alternative and conventional agriculture—the former a way of life in balance with nature, and the latter a business oriented toward profit maximization. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social entrepreneurship, individual activities with a social objective, is used in this study as a conceptual tool for empirically examining farmers’ participation in alternative food networks (AFNs). This study verifies whether their participation is driven by the social entrepreneurship dimension to satisfy social and environmental needs. We develop a more inclusive view of how social entrepreneurship is present among farmers participating in AFNs by using a behavioural approach based on three main psychological constructs: attitude, objective, and behaviour. The empirical results show that two types of farmers participate in AFNs. One type is closer to commercial entrepreneurs; the main attitudes and objectives affecting their behaviour are oriented toward profit maximization and farm progress. The second type is closer to social entrepreneurial activity; the main objectives affecting their behaviour are oriented towards satisfying social and environmental needs. The study’s results offer implications and suggest recommendations concerning social entrepreneurial practices and the motivations of the farmers who participate in AFNs.
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    • "In later analyzing the empirical material I will seek to reconcile this apparent contradiction as the mutability of interpretation of the independence virtue is explored further through particular reference to cooperation in production. The virtue of independence Scholars of rural life have long made an association between farming, a value in independence and its potential affect on farming behaviors (Emery and Franks 2012; Gasson 1973; Ilbery 1983; Stock and Forney forthcoming; Sullivan et al. 1996; Sutherland and Burton 2011). The reasons for this association, however, have been less explored. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social scientists have long examined the changing role of the individual, and the influence of individualism in social and economic arrangements as well as behavioral decisions. With respect to co-operative behavior among farmers, however, the ideology of individualism has been little theorized in terms of its relationship to the longstanding virtue of independence. This paper explores this relationship by combining analysis of historical literature on the agricultural cooperative movement with the accounts of contemporary English farmers. I show that the virtue of independence is deployed to justify a variety of cooperative (formal and informal) and non-cooperative practices and that, despite apparently alternative interpretations, independence is most often conflated with individualistic premises. That conflation, I argue, leads farmers to see their neighbors as natural competitors: as those from whom which independence must be sought. This has the effect of masking the structural dependencies which farmers face (such as lenders and large purchasers) and limits the alternatives available to them to realize a view of independence that is maintained, rather than opposed, by interdependent collective action. Thus perceived, individualism is an ideological doctrine that succeeds by appealing to the virtue of independence, while simultaneously denying its actual realization.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Agriculture and Human Values
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    • "However, the majority of farmers appreciate nature, sense an environmental stewardship and see advantages of ecological functions supplied by biodiversity for their work, e.g. soil fertility, pollination and biological control of pests (Sullivan et al., 1996). Biodiversity is also often associated to other natural resources such as water, soil and air, of which farmers acknowledge the need of protection (Fischer and Young, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Farmers are key players in actions to halt biodiversity loss from farmland. However, if farmers are to sustain biodiversity, they must first be adequately informed about biodiversity and understand its drivers. Measuring biodiversity at the farm scale is difficult because of the structural complexity of many farms, and because different aspects of diversity can be considered desirable, e.g. species richness or rarity. In this study we examined 19 grassland farms in Central Switzerland, and sampled plants, earthworms, spiders and bees using a stratified sampling design. We considered several metrics of species diversity, but found two particularly useful at farm scale: average richness (area-weighted) and farm uniqueness in terms of species identity. Average richness reflects the expected species richness in a random sample taken on the farm, and farm uniqueness is the contribution of a farm to the total species richness of all farms under study. Average richness and farm uniqueness are complementary and reflect different aspects of biodiversity. We demonstrate how combining these metrics enables tailored recommendations for enhancing species diversity on the farm.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Environmental Science & Policy
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