Organic livestock production as viewed by Swedish farmers and organic initiators

Agriculture and Human Values 19 (3):255-268 (2002)
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Abstract

Eleven organic and two conventionalSwedish livestock farmers and two initiators(non-farmers who took part in shaping earlyorganic livestock production in Sweden) wereinterviewed, using a semi-structured method.Respondents were selected through purposive andheterogeneous sampling with regard toconversion year, type of production, and sizeof farm. Conversion of the animal husbandrytook place between 1974 and 2000. All but twohad positive attitudes towards organiclivestock production and saw it as a wayforward for Swedish livestock production,although especially the latecomers did notperceive it as the only alternative. There wasa distinct difference in values between thepioneers, who converted their farms early, andthose converting later. Pioneer farmers sharedthe values of the initiators. They expressed amore ecocentric view emphasizing a systemicapproach, and displayed a more holisticapproach to questions, interpreting them inlarger frameworks. They also had a moreecocentric understanding of animal welfare. Thelater the conversion, the more important theeconomic reason for conversion appeared to be.Those converting later also tended to have amore superficial relationship to organicprinciples. However, the farmers also tended tobe more influenced by organic values the longerthey worked with organic farming

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