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A Summary of "A descriptive analysis of Saskatchewan organic producers."

Paper presented at the Agricultural Institute of Canada National Conference, Fredericton, New Brunswick, July. Molder, P.J., P.D. Negrave, and R.A. Schoney. 1991.

Objective: to identify characteristics of Saskatchewan organic producers - key demographic, farm practices, family goals.

Mail survey of farmers following phone contact to solicit cooperation results based on 62 useable questionnaires.

- 55% farmers were 100 % organic

- 73% have at least 50% of total area in organic production

- on average 336 ha owned and 322 ha rented.

- about 50% of farms have at least one member employed off the farm.

- education - males 10.7 years average years of education

- females 11.8 years

- males 35 % had post secondary education

- females 56 %. - younger farmers in the sample have tended to practice organically longer than older - "younger producers are now starting to farm by using organic farming practices whereas older producers are in the process of converting" . (pp 9)

- 71% agreed that their eating habits or diet had changed since they began farming organically.

Farm Practices

Some (34%) use some type of organic input.

Grow crops common to the region; rotations more complex than conventional; most rely on legume forate for nitrogen; many experimenting with rotations extending 5 to 10 years.

Most (51%) report some type of livestock; most common are beef cattle and poultry.

90% do their own record keeping; 13% use computerized records, 8% use a professional management service - these results are similar to conventional producers revealled in the Farm Practices Survey (Schoney and Culver).

Indicate that other organic farmers are their most important source of farm management information; 90% belong to at least one organic producer organization.

72% participate in WGSA and 66% participate in crop insurance.

Consensus Goal Scores

Goals evaluated using fuzzy pairwise comparisons (Van Kooten et al., 1986); goals are compared pairwise and the response represents the degree of preference for one goal or another. Each goal receives as score that allows them to be ranked.

Of the 9 goals, the top 4 were

- soil quality

- reduce chemical residues in food

- maintain financial solvency

- avoid years of low profits

Indicates that goals related to environmental concerns ranked highest, followed by economic or financial goals.

They caution that traditional normative economic models will not adaquately explain the choices made by organic producers, since they are perhaps less motivated by economic goals than conventional; they make this type of statement although there is no comparison made to conventional; it is speculative

Van Kooten, G.C., R.A. Schoney, and K.A. Hayward. 1986. An alternative approach to the evaluation of goal hierarchies among farmers. Western Journal of Agricultural Economics, 11:1:40-49.

Copyright 1997. Ecological Agriculture Projects.

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