PR - Doing The Unthinkable: Linking Farmers’ Breadth Of View And Adaptive Propensity To The Achievement Of Social, Environmental And Economic Outcomes (p197-203)
Farmers produce products for markets that demand food safety and environmental sustainability, while working in a world challenged by a changing climate and decreasing water and energy resources. To meet these challenges they need to adapt and change their farming practices. We argue that studying farmer orientation from the perspective of ‘good farming’ offers an improved understanding of change in farm practices. In this article we develop the concept of ‘breadth of view’ to account for how farmers view the impact of their farming practices on social and environmental wellbeing, We then link this cultural capital to their self ascribed adaptive propensity and financial emphasis. Factor and cluster analysis of farmer survey data identified four clusters of farmers each with different combinations of levels of cultural capital to do with social and environmental breath of view, adaptive propensity and financial emphasis. By considering the sheep/beef farmers from the ARGOS programme within these survey clusters we were able to associate the overall attitudinal qualities of each cluster with on-farm environmental and financial practices and outcomes. One cluster, which had the highest adaptive propensity and the highest social and environmental breadth of view achieved some higher environmental and economic outcomes on their farms. Using our knowledge of the farmers in this cluster we were able to ascertain the nature of their adaptation to demonstrate how they did things that were unthinkable to other farmers. The results are interpreted in terms of how breadth of view may have different effects, that is, be either a source of new ideas or a driver of conformity, and also to show how farmers may be able to achieve the unthinkable, suggesting it is possible for farmers to farm environmentally, socially and economically sustainably in quite different ways.
Keywords: Cultural capital, farmer orientation, good farmer, unthinkable, breadth of view, adaptation.