What influences agricultural professionals' views towards organic agriculture?
Organic agriculture is a farming system that is considered by some to have beneficial impacts on the future sustainability of agriculture. Although some research has studied the attitudes of consumers and farmers, in particular what factors influence the willingness of consumers to pay organic premiums and what factors influence farmers to adopt organic farming, no studies have considered what influences the attitudes of agricultural professionals (extension officers, scientists, academics and researchers). Given the key role that agricultural professionals play in influencing farmer adoption of agricultural innovations and conducting research, their views on farming systems may be critical for overall adoption. This study reports the results of a telephone survey conducted in 2004, with 185 agricultural professionals surveyed for their views towards organic farming. A particular aim was to study how increased knowledge and experience influenced attitudes towards organic agriculture. Using an ordered probit regression framework, some of the significant key influences on attitudes towards organic farming were: knowledge; experience; education; informational; occupational effects; and attitudes on the individual aspects of organic agriculture. The study finds support for the hypothesis that professionals with increased organic knowledge and experience are more likely to think favourably about organic agriculture.
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