Proceedings

PR – An Investigation Into The Determinants Of Commitment To Organic Farming In Ireland

A dramatic increase in the number of organic farmers in Ireland since the introduction of financial support under successive agri-environmental programmes prompted us to investigate farmer motivations to convert to organic farming and to continue as organic farmers. An adapted Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) framework proved useful to investigate farmer motivations and behaviour. The findings support the TPB hypothesis in that behavioural intention (commitment to organic farming) was related to attitude, the influence of important others and the level of perceived behaviour control. The addition of self-identity and moral obligation measures in the regression increased the predictive power of the model, signifying that these two variables are important predictors of commitment. The organic farmers were segmented based on their level of commitment to organic farming, three segments were identified: wary, finance wary; and very committed. The findings point to an evolution in the type of organic farmer from a small-scale farmer very focused on environmental and agro-ecological issues to a larger-scale more commercially orientated farmer. However, the majority of full-time Irish organic farmers displayed a strong moral obligation to the environment and their continued commitment to organic farming was influenced by growing consumer demand for high quality healthy food products. Part-time organic farmers were found to be rather wary as to the future potential of organic farming.

Key words: Organic farming; theory of planned behaviour; farmer’s attitudes and motivations; Ireland.

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Author(s): Guerin, P., McCarthy, M., O'Reilly, S., O'Sullivan, A.

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Organizations(s): Department of Food Business & Development, University College Cork