Farmer identities and responses to the social–biophysical environment

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2015-06-01
Authors
McGuire, Jean
Morton, Lois
Arbuckle, J. Gordon
Arbuckle, J. Gordon
Cast, Alicia
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Sociology
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Sociology
Abstract

Row crop production in the United States (US) Midwest is responsible for a myriad of water pollution issues in the Mississippi River Basin and the Gulf of Mexico. US federal and state governments have spent billions of dollars since the 1930's to understand and develop biological and geophysical practices that will reduce the negative impacts of agriculture on these landscapes and water bodies. However, significantly fewer resources have been applied to understanding the human factor within this social–ecological system. Recently the social psychological framework known as farmer identity as been used to better understand how farmers view themselves as they perform their role as farmer. To empirically test this concept in the US state of Iowa, a farmer identity question was developed and data were collected as part of an annual survey of Iowa farmers. Four farmer identities (Productivist, Conservationist, Civic-minded, and Naturalist) are identified using principal components analysis and tested for their ability to predict support for farm policy scenarios related to soil and water resource protection. Results show that Productivist, Conservationist, and Naturalist identities were likely to be activated by soil and water policies; and the Civic-minded identity was not activated by soil and water policies in general but was significantly against more money for conservation because it might mean more regulation.

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This article is from Journal of Rural Studies 39 (2015): 145, doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2015.03.011. Posted with permission.

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