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The decision making of organic and conventional agricultural producers

Fairweather, John R.
Campbell, H.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
The main objective of this research was to describe and understand the decision making of organic and conventional farmers so that we could understand why, or why not, they grew organic products. Organic production was self defined by the farmers themselves not by us as experts. We did not examine whether actual organic standards were being followed. A majority of organic farmers had their organic status certified by Bio-Gro NZ (the organisation formerly known as the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Association) providing certification in conformity with the basic standards of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). Therefore organic farming is defined as any land use which uses organic techniques. It includes agricultural and horticultural land uses and thereby includes both farmers and growers. However, for ease of reading, this report uses the words agriculture and farmer and they should be taken to include horticulture and growers. This report provides a review of literature on farmers’ decision making with respect to organic farming. It then introduces and explains the method adopted in this study, namely, the ethnographic decision tree approach. The results are presented in terms of what they tell us about understanding both organic and conventional farmers’ thinking about organic production. Finally, the conclusion discusses the results, compares them with the existing literature, makes some general observations and considers the policy implications.