Fair Enough: Farmer-Led Councils and Adopting BMPs
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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How fair is fair? Is fair being able to only order McNuggets from 11 am to 4 am? Why can’t I have chicken nuggets at 9 in the morning? Maybe it’s because those are the policies and regulations that are in place for distributing food. I could call customer service and ask them why I am limited to these certain hours. However, is calling customer service a fair process for voicing my opinion? Must I revaluate my situation? Are the policies and regulations fair? Similar to this McNugget example is the situation that farmers find themselves in, but they are not just dealing with chicken nuggets. My research focused on adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) within farmer social networks. These BMPs are practices that are proven to help reduce run-off and help improve water quality. Examples of BMPs are putting in grass waterways, using no till, utilizing cover crops, and developing nutrient management plans. For my research I was also interested in perception of fairness among the farming community and how that played a role in adopting Best Management Practices. Throughout the research process I learned that perceptions of fairness within the farming community was significant and played an important role in predicting whether or not they adopt BMPs. The fairness variable included if polices, regulations, and whether the process of voicing opinions was fair or not. These three questions were scaled into one variable for a combined effect on prediction of adopting BMPs. If farmer doesn’t believe in the practices and the regulations that are in place for certain practices, then they lack the passion for the work that they are doing to change their practices. Farmers need policies and regulations that they believe in and they can fully trust. There is nothing motivational about doing something that you don’t believe in. Farmers are passionate about their fields and crops and they exemplify it through the amount of time that they spend on taking care of those fields and crops. As I talked to farmers during this summer, I could see how passionate these farmers are about their work. Equally important with fairness, other great predictors of BMPs are education, gross farm sales, and willingness to work with farmer led councils. As the research continued and I learned that farmer led councils were a great predictor of BMP adoption. I wanted to find out what was a predictor of person willing to work with farmer led councils. Farmer led councils are a way to get farmers connected with each other and a great avenue for the flow and exchange of information. It is also a great way for them to voice their opinion on current policies and regulations. These small interactions could inevitably spark change for policies in which farmers believe are fairer, again an important predictor of BMP adoption. Now, think about a person who you would call up at 3 am to go get ice cream with you. Think about if other people would call that same person. This person would probably have high “PageRank”. PageRank is essentially the popularity of a person. My research showed that PageRank was a great predictor of willingness to work with farmer led councils. Other predictors are farm size, and value of land for future generation use. PageRank was especially important for smaller farms in terms of acreage. Willingness to participate in farmer led councils increased as PageRank for smaller farms increased. However, willingness to work with farmer led councils and PageRank decreased together when measuring larger farms. Smaller farms would be the ones to target in order to participate in farmer led councils. Lastly, great social change comes about through the collaboration of the government and the people. Social change stems from allowing the people to voice their opinions and correct the aspects in society that are not living up the standards of justices. I hope that that my research has given insight on what can create great social change for the farming community and a change in the environment that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Sociology at East Carolina University