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Identifying economic and societal drivers of engagement in agri-environmental schemes for English dairy producers

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Kendall, Dr Regina Hansda, Professor Mark Reed

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

Livestock production is under increasing scrutiny over its impacts on the environment and its wider role in climate change. Consequently, there are a number of government and retailer agri-environmental schemes that offer farmers economic rewards to maintain and enhance the environment. This study explored the perceptions of commercial UK dairy producers on the role of economic and societal drivers on their adoption of agri-environmental behaviours on farms, using a mixed-methods approach. Initially, a structured questionnaire was used to explore the role of an agri-environmental scheme offered by a global food processor in the financial stability and environmental sustainability of dairy farms (N=20). The results from the questionnaire were explored further through qualitative in-depth interviews (N=12). A thematic analysis approach was taken to describe the key themes that motivated farmer engagement in agri-environmental schemes. Overall, farmers felt that the income from the agri-environmental scheme provided stability and resilience for their businesses; thus, permitting them to have greater confidence in business planning and budgeting for the upcoming year. The majority of the farmers were already undertaking some agri-environmental behaviours prior to scheme membership and were motivated by a desire to maintain the natural environment. A minority of respondents identified that the financial incentives offered had directly motivated a behaviour change. Decisions over which agri-environmental behaviours to adopt were driven by the animal management, geography and landscape of the farm. Farmers agreed that scheme membership had been beneficial for both their farm as a business and as a contributor to the local environment. Many reported a personal satisfaction from engagement in agri-environmental behaviours. Farmers identified that contrasts between the requirements of the agri-environmental scheme reported here and others were a barrier to the uptake of schemes. Therefore, harmonisation between scheme requirements could maximise farmer engagement with agri-environmental behaviours.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Coyne L, Kendall H, Hansda R, Reed MS, Williams DJL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Land Use Policy

Year: 2021

Volume: 101

Print publication date: 01/02/2021

Online publication date: 19/11/2020

Acceptance date: 24/10/2020

Date deposited: 19/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0264-8377

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5754

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd

URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105174

DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105174


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