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Do the new organic producers differ from the 'old guard'? Empirical results from Norwegian dairy farming

Flaten, Ola; Lien, Gudbrand; Ebbesvik, Martha; Koesling, Matthias and Valle, Paul Steinar (2006) Do the new organic producers differ from the 'old guard'? Empirical results from Norwegian dairy farming. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 21 (3), pp. 174-182.

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Online at: DOI: 10.1079/RAF2005140

Summary

Conventional farmers converting to organics have contributed to most of the rapid expansion of organic farming in recent years. The new organic farmers may differ from their more established colleagues, which may have implications for the development of the organic farming sector and its distinctiveness vis-a`-vis conventional production and marketing practices. The aim of this study was to explore Norwegian organic dairy farmers’ personal and farm production characteristics, farming goals, conversion motives, and attitudes to organic farming, grouped by year of conversion (three groups). A postal survey was undertaken among organic dairy farmers (n = 161). The results show that the newcomers (converted in 2000 or later) were less educated than the early entrants (the so-called ‘old guard’) who converted in 1995 or earlier. The frequency of activities like vegetable growing and poultry farming among the old guard was high. The late-entry organic herds were fed with more concentrates and had a higher milk production intensity, showed a higher incidence of veterinary treatments and less frequent use of alternative medicine than the herds of the two earlier converting groups. For all groups of farmers, the highest ranked farming goals were sustainable and environment-friendly farming and the production of high-quality food. Late entrants more often mentioned goals related to profit and leisure time. On average, the most frequently mentioned motives for conversion were food quality and professional challenges. The old guard was more strongly motivated by food quality and soil fertility/pollution issues than the others, whereas financial reasons (organic payments included) were relatively more important among the newcomers. All groups held very favorable views about the environmental qualities of organic farming methods, albeit with different strengths of beliefs. Even though trends towards more pragmatic and business-oriented farming were found, the majority of the newcomers were fairly committed.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:organic farming, milk production, year of conversion, farming goals, motives for conversion, attitudes, animal health, feeding, conventionalization; Økorisk
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods > Surveys and statistics
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Values, standards and certification
Research affiliation: Norway > Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute for Agriculture and Environmental Research > Bioforsk Organic Food and Farming Division
Norway > NILF - Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute
Norway > NVH - Norwegian School of Veterinary Science
Deposited By: Flaten, Dr. Ola
ID Code:17786
Deposited On:21 Oct 2010 10:40
Last Modified:21 Oct 2010 10:40
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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