Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
A study by two well-respected researchers exemplifies some of the prob-
lems with comparative research on organic and conventional farmers. This
study downplays differences by asking questions that push farmers to select
one response. Specifically, this survey was based on an eighteen-page ques-
tionnaire completed by 70 organic, 131 small-scale conventional, and 178
commercial-conventional farmers in New York state (Buttel and Gillespie
1988). The questions focused on crop production practices and agricultural-
environmental orientations. For example, one question asked farmers their
preference in crop varieties. On the questionnaire, they had three choices:
1. A variety with very high yield potential, but which requires heavy use
of fertilizers and pesticides to get high yields.
2. A variety with a moderate yield potential, but which is resistant to pests
and diseases so that chemicals are seldom needed.
3.Havenopreference.
Wouldn't any farmer want pest-resistant varieties that reduce the cost of
having to pay for “heavy use”of inputs (option #2)? And, not surprisingly, 97
percent of organic, 87 percent of small-scale conventional, and 83 percent of
commercial conventional farmers selected #2. Such a structured question-
naire often masks the real motivations behind choosing various farming
methods. Luckily, these researchers also included a more telling question,
related to pesticides, which showed that 100 percent of organic but only
47 percent of small and 42 percent of large conventional farmers prefer
natural insect control. The environmental orientations were not surprising,
as organic farmers have “strikingly more pro-environmental attitudes than
either small or commercial-scale conventional farm operators” (15). The
idea of “preference” adds another complexity to the questions. Many people
may prefer one thing but in fact do quite the opposite for various reasons.
So questionnaires that force farmers to select one response from a rigid list
must be clearly written and carefully interpreted.
An important scale was developed to identify people's worldview or
paradigm regarding agriculture (Beus and Dunlap 1990). People who agree
with the large-scale industrial modes of production operate within a con-
ventional paradigm, while those seeking ecological and sustainable agricul-
ture follow an alternative paradigm. The Alternative-Conventional Agricul-
ture Paradigm (ACAP) scale was built around several issues: centralization
versus decentralization, dependence versus independence, competition ver-
sus community, environmental domination versus harmony with nature,
specialization versus diversity, and exploitation versus restraint. The ACAP
scale, based on twenty-four questions, has been applied in several contexts
around the country. Once it was applied to 208 farmers inWashington state
[63], (24)
Lines: 245 to 259
———
0.0pt PgVar
———
Normal Page
PgEnds: T E X
[63], (24)
Search WWH ::




Custom Search