There are a number of agricultural farming practices that are controversial. These may include using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, and planting genetically modified crops, as well as the decision to dehorn cattle rather than raise polled cattle breeds. We use data from a survey of Missouri crop and livestock producers to determine whether a farmer’s ethical framework affects his or her decision to engage in these practices. We find that a plurality of farmers prefer an agricultural policy that reflects principles based on rights rather than principles of utilitarianism or justice. Furthermore, after controlling for personal and farm characteristics, we find a positive correlation between farmers preferring a rights-based policy and a farmer’s use of chemical farm inputs and polled rather than horned cattle. We also find that a combination of ethical framework and farm and farmer characteristics correlate with decisions to use farm chemicals, while only farm and farmer characteristics affect the decision to plant GM crops and only a farmer’s ethical framework affects the decision to use polled cattle.
Keywords Farm management decisions  Ethical issues  Ethical decision making  Chemical farm inputs  Genetically modified crops  Crop and livestock production
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9306-6
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