Beliefs and Barriers to integrated stewardship in the New Zealand Dairy Industry. How we can move past them?
Janine Alfeld

Lincoln University

P O Box 21

Lincoln University


New Zealand 7647

Contact Email: alfeldj2@lincoln.ac.nz

Farmers are relied upon world wide to provide food to enable human existence. However is the food that the human population consume being produced by sustainable farming practices? 

Research in New Zealand has shown what farmers’ and farm advisors say is happening regarding sustainable farming practices (Espoused Theory, Argyris & Schon, 1974) and what is actually being practiced on farms (Theory-in-use, Argyris & Schon, 1974) is sometimes very different. 

Empirical research conducted in the Dairy Farming sector, New Zealand during 2006 investigated the decision making processes of dairy farmers’ with reference to sustainability.  Seventeen key informants in the dairy industry were interviewed. Key themes of sustainability were developed.

From a population of 550 dairy farmers’, twenty seven in depth interviews were held.  A model regarding dairy farmers’ sustainability decision making has been developed with information gained from the interviews.

Key themes developed were:

1.       Dairy farmers’ have different understandings of what sustainability means.

2.       Main barriers identified to sustainability were attitude and high debt level.

3.       The main sustainability issues were a very low public perception, shortage of labour, low profits, water restrictions and lack of environmental awareness.

4.       The decision making process was examined and the strategic decisions identified as well as who and how decisions were made.

5.       Farmer’s goals drove the decision making process. These were profit and lifestyle (but does the money drive the lifestyle or the lifestyle drive the money), farm ownership or expansion.

6.       Goals were driven by the dairy farmer’s beliefs, attitudes and motivation. These were sometimes very different. These all played a pivotal role in how a dairy farmer looked at sustainability.

Barriers to integrated stewardship in the dairy industry arise as there are differential definitions of sustainability by dairy farmers. Different barriers and beliefs have been identified to sustainable dairy farming’s implementation. This discussion will focus on these barriers and beliefs and how we can move past these to implement a more sustainable dairy farming sector.

Full Paper (.ppt format, 112.0 kb)

All Submissions
8:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007, Oral

The Ontario, Canada 2007 Meeting