Comparing attitudes and characteristics of organic, former organic and conventional farmers: evidence from ireland
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Läpple, Doris (2012). Comparing attitudes and characteristics of organic, former organic and conventional farmers: evidence from ireland. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 28 (4), 329-337
Despite an overall growth rate of the organic farming sector in the European Union, a considerable number of farmers cease organic production each year. Given the commitment of many European governments to increase the size of their organic farming sectors, reducing the rate of withdrawals from organic production may be an easier option than attracting new farmers into organic farming. In order to reduce the rate of withdrawals, knowledge about those farmers is required. However, to date, little is known about farmers who adopt and subsequently abandon organic farming. This study attempts to fill this gap in the literature by comparing and contrasting the farm and personal characteristics of organic, former organic and conventional farmers. To this end, primary data from 596 Irish cattle and sheep farmers are utilized. Overall, the findings reveal significant differences between the three groups. More specifically, organic farmers are found to be the most environmentally aware farmers, who also rate information gathering as more important than the remaining two groups. Organic farmers are younger, better educated and more likely to be women than conventional farmers. Former organic farmers stand out to be the least risk averse group and also express lower environmental awareness than organic farmers. Conventional farmers are found to be the most profit oriented and least environmentally aware group. In addition, this group farms more intensely stocked enterprises than the remaining groups. The paper concludes with a discussion of some policy recommendations aimed at increasing the size of the organic sector.