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

O., Flaten; G., Lien; M., Ebbesvik; M., Koesling and P.S., Valle (2005) Do the new organic producers differ from the “old guard”? Empirical results from Norwegian dairy farming. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. [In Press]

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Conventional farmers converting to organics has 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-à-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 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 were 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
Subjects: Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Farming Systems > Farm economics
Research affiliation: Norway > NILF - Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research Institute
Norway > NORSØK - Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture
Norway > NVH - Norwegian School of Veterinary Science
Deposited By: Flaten, Dr. Ola
ID Code:6350
Deposited On:19 Dec 2005
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:31
Document Language:English
Status:In Press
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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