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Views of agriculture: Understanding farmers' attitudes to identify strategies for improving rural landscape planning

  • Year: 2010
  • Author: Thompson, Aaron William
  • Journal Name: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
  • Publisher: Purdue University
  • Published Location: United States -- Indiana
  • ISBN: 9781124530031
  • Country: United States
  • State/Region: Indiana

Increased concern over the loss of public support for agriculture, the conversion of farmland to urban development, and the growing recognition of the environmental impact of industrial agricultural practices demonstrate the challenges facing farmers today. The response to these challenges has varied and demonstrates the diversity of attitudes and beliefs amongst farmers. The purpose of this research project is to engage farmers in local planning efforts to restore the health of the rural landscape by understanding the diversity of farmers' views of environmental stewardship and the role of government involvement in managing the land. The project focuses on Tippecanoe County, Indiana where community members are planning for the future of the Wabash River. Agriculture is the dominant land use in the county, which makes the involvement of farmers as keystakeholders in this process critical to identifying and implementing solutions to challenges facing the Wabash River and the rural landscape. The ultimate outcome of this project is to inform rural landscape planning activities by developing targeted approaches for engaging farmers in ways that reflect the diversity of their views for the future of the rural landscape. Attitudinal scales are developed to assess farmers' adherence to different belief systems related to environmental stewardship and government involvement. The influence of these belief systems as factors that motivate or detract from support for rural landscape planning is explored using multiple regression analysis. The results of these regression models indicate that farmers who adhere to an alternative environmental stewardship belief system or government as a partner belief system are generally more supportive of key aspects of rural landscape planning. Subsequent analysis of these belief system measures using cluster analysis revealed five categories of farmers based on their views of environmental stewardship and government involvement. Analysis of mean differences between these groups revealed important distinguishing characteristics, such as farm size and political views, that support understanding the unique identities of these groups. Additional research conducted during focus groups with members of these belief system groups provided insight into the diversity of their views of rural landscape planning and strategies for engaging these farmers in efforts to protect the health of the rural landscape.

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