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Environmental beliefs and farm practices of New Zealand organic, conventional and GE intending farmers

Fairweather, John R.
Campbell, H.
Tomlinson, C.
Cook, Andrew J.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::140201 Agricultural Economics
The main objective of this report was to deepen our understanding of the different types of farmers and growers in New Zealand primary production with respect to novel technologies. It provides supplementary analysis of data from an AERU survey of 656 farmers and growers published in 2000 (Cook et al., 2000). The report develops a profile of three types of farmers and growers, namely: organic farmers, conventional farmers and GE intending farmers. In addition, it describes beliefs about nature, environmental values, reports of actual farming practices and the perceived consequences of each practice. Throughout it draws attention to how responses differ for the three farmer types. The results on environmental values showed that, generally, there was a consistent pattern of organic farmers having environmental values which accorded equal moral weight to all life forms, emphasised co-operation with nature and acknowledged that nature has intrinsic values independent of human valuation. Conventional farmers and GE intending farmers also have sensitivity to the environment, but not to the same degree. The key difference was not that different farmer types adhered to different attitudes to the environment, but that strength of the belief was significantly stronger for the organic farmers. The results on the perceived influence of consumer demand on farming practices indicated that organic farmers were more influenced by the perceived demands of consumers, especially concerning environmental practices and the reduced use of chemicals. The results relating to farming practices are consistent with the results on stated environmental values. The discussion focuses on the sizes of each group, how they can best be approached, and considers policy issues relating to sustainable agriculture.