Beethem, K., S. T. Marquart-Pyatt, J. Lai, and T. Guo. 2023. Navigating the information landscape: public and private information source access by midwest farmers. Agriculture and Human Values 40:1117-1135.
Timely and accurate information is vital to the success of row crop farmers in the United States. Information access is also critical to conservation efforts due to its influence on best management practice adoption. Public information sources like extension educators have been declining in importance for farmers, raising concerns around what information farmers receive on conservation practices and the accessibility of agronomic information. In this study we investigate farmers’ changing information source consultation by broadly considering the agricultural information landscape, exploring whether farmers have displayed clear trends in access between public and private sources and whether certain farmer or operational characteristics predict public or private source access. We utilize data from a 2018 survey of farmers in four Corn Belt states to examine farmers’ information seeking behaviors and predict the number of total, public, and private sources accessed using structural equation modeling with latent variables. Our findings elaborate on the public-to-private source shift and reveal that farmers continue to seek information from both private and public sources, though the frequency, mode of contact, and types of farmers contacting these sources differ. Results suggest public information sources are still influential, but they are accessed less frequently, tend to appeal to farmers with stronger environmental concerns, and have less appeal to older farmers compared to private information sources. Our findings indicate the potential for extension and other public sources to diversify modes of communication to further their reach.
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Human Surveys Social Science StudiesSign in to download PDF back to index