Stakeholders’Perceptions of the Environmental Impacts of Agricultural ManagementPractices and Techniques

Geason, L.A. and C.K. Harris

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2002-10-04 )

The primary purpose of our research is to understand why some farmers implement practices and techniques that are more ecologically beneficial for the environment, whereas other farmers implement practices that are ecologically detrimental for the environment.  In order to investigate this research question we need to understand the different ways ecologically beneficial and detrimental are defined within different social segments of agriculture, food, environment and ecology in Michigan.  Therefore our research question for the first phase of the research is to understand how different stakeholder groups within agriculture and the environment in Michigan define a farm management practice as either ecologically beneficial or ecologically detrimental.  Once we understand the different definitions/language, which stakeholders are using to create their categories of the “best practices”, we will be able to create an impact indicator checklist that provides a concordance across the different stakeholder’s perspectives.   Nine stakeholder groups were identified to represent the range of opinions concerning agriculture and the environment in Michigan.  Eleven focus groups were conducted with combinations of representatives from the nine stakeholder groups.  The participants perceived that the main areas of impacts were the same for both beneficial and detrimental ecological changes—air quality, water quality, soil quality, and ecosystem services.  Participants within focus groups saw the relationships between practices/techniques and impacts as very complex and contingent on a variety of contextual factors.

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