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A Pragmatic Study of Conventional and Alternative Farmers in Colorado

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The adoption of alternative agriculture in the form of organic farming and Holistic Resource Management (HRM) ranching is controlled by individual farmer decision making. Drawing on pragmatism, a method of inquiry based on understanding peoples’ experiences, this paper shows how agricultural land–use decisions are based on numerous factors, including sources of information, individual perceptions of agriculture, and attitudes about the environment that are narrowed to a farmer’s practical range of choice. Descriptive statistics identify variations between groups of conventional and alternative farmers, while qualitative analysis details incremental variations among case study farmers. Based on 57 mail survey responses and 11 case study interviews in Colorado, 12 behavioral characteristics are identified that describe composite reactive and proactive farmers. Differences are linked to variations between an internal and external locus of control. Results indicate that there is a spectrum of attitudes and characteristics among conventional and alternative farmers that is displayed as an agro–ecological behavior continuum model.

Keywords: alternative agriculture; behavior; environment/society; rural geography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Publication date: May 1, 1997

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