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Reconstructing the good farmer identity: shifts in farmer identities and farm management practices to improve water quality

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Author Info

  • Jean McGuire

    ()

  • Lois Morton
  • Alicia Cast
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    Abstract

    All farmers have their own version of what it means to be a good farmer. For many US farmers a large portion of their identity is defined by the high input, high output production systems they manage to produce food, fiber or fuel. However, the unintended consequences of highly productivist systems are often increased soil erosion and the pollution of ground and surface water. A large number of farmers have conservationist identities within their good farmer identity, however their conservation goals often need to be activated to rebalance the production-conservation meanings they give to their roles in society. In this paper we analyze US Cornbelt farmer interviews and surveys to trace how the performance-based environmental management process can be used to influence the farmer social identity and shift the overall good farmer identity towards a stronger conservationist standard. We find the continuous feedback loop in performance-based environmental management mimics the hierarchically organized feedback control processes of identity verification and can be used to help farmers activate their conservationist farmer identities at the person, role, and social levels to establish new norms for the practice of more sustainable agriculture. Copyright The Author(s) 2013

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10460-012-9381-y
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 57-69

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:30:y:2013:i:1:p:57-69

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    Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10460

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    Related research

    Keywords: Productivist; Conservationist; Farmer identity; Water quality; Performance-based management; Farmer decision-making;

    References

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    1. Thomas L. Dobbs & Jules N. Pretty, 2004. "Agri-Environmental Stewardship Schemes and “Multifunctionality”," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 220-237.
    2. Stewart Lockie, 1998. "Environmental and social risks, and the construction of “best-practice” in Australian agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 243-252, September.
    3. Maybery, Darryl & Crase, Lin & Gullifer, Chris, 2005. "Categorising farming values as economic, conservation and lifestyle," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 59-72, February.
    4. Clark P. Bishop & C. Richard Shumway & Philip R. Wandschneider, 2010. "Agent Heterogeneity in Adoption of Anaerobic Digestion Technology: Integrating Economic, Diffusion, and Behavioral Innovation Theories," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(3).
    5. Lois Morton & Chih Weng, 2009. "Getting to better water quality outcomes: the promise and challenge of the citizen effect," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 83-94, March.
    6. Hayley H. Chouinard & Tobias Paterson & Philip R. Wandschneider & Adrienne M. Ohler, 2008. "Will Farmers Trade Profits for Stewardship? Heterogeneous Motivations for Farm Practice Selection," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(1), pages 66-82.
    7. Robert J. Sheeder & Gary D. Lynne, 2011. "Empathy-Conditioned Conservation: “Walking in the Shoes of Others” as a Conservation Farmer," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(3), pages 433-452.
    8. Adam Reimer & Aaron Thompson & Linda Prokopy, 2012. "The multi-dimensional nature of environmental attitudes among farmers in Indiana: implications for conservation adoption," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 29-40, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lennox, Gareth D. & Gaston, Kevin J. & Acs, Szvetlana & Dallimer, Martin & Hanley, Nick & Armsworth, Paul R., 2013. "Conservation when landowners have bargaining power: Continuous conservation investments and cost uncertainty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 69-78.

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