Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultural models, grain -farm management, and agricultural nutrient runoff: A Maryland case study of the role of culture in nutrient -management policy
by Maloney, R. Shawn, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2009, 250; 3369213
Abstract (Summary)

Government agencies responsible for monitoring the health of U.S. waterways report that nonpoint-source pollution from agricultural nutrient runoff is one of America's greatest water-quality threats. Federal agencies and states have partnered to develop nutrient-management policies and programs to reduce farm runoff. These efforts are complicated by the fact that policy decisions are made in an environment with limited resources, imperfect scientific knowledge, and diverse interests and understandings. This increases the likelihood that participants in the policy-making process will have different understandings of environmental problems and preferences for addressing them. Thus, there is a critical need for cooperation and collaboration in creating and implementing nutrient-management policies. In particular, it is important for policy makers to work collaboratively with farmers because nutrient-management policy goals cannot be achieved without their support for and full participation in policy programs.

I contend that the success of nutrient-management policy efforts can be enhanced by greater knowledge of the cultural models that shape farmers' management beliefs and practices and inform their understandings of themselves and their relationship to the world. By situating policy efforts and proposals within the context of farmers' compelling cultural models, policy makers are more likely to create nutrient-management policy that farmers are willing to support and adopt. This in turn increases the likelihood that environmental goals will be achieved. A key element of this strategy is to successfully link policy ideas and practices with farmers' shared "goal-schemas" and leverage the motivational force associated with them to gain their support.

To explore my contention that farmer cultural models play a central role in informing and directing their farm-management decisions, and that knowledge of these models can serve a valuable function in helping policy makers create more effective nutrient-management policies and programs, I draw on research I conducted in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with Maryland grain farmers from 1998 to 2001. The time period and focus of my research are particularly relevant to nutrient-management policy studies because they coincide with a highly contested nutrient-management policy debate in Maryland that resulted in the passage of the nation's most comprehensive environmental regulations to manage agricultural nutrient runoff.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stull, Donald D.
Commitee: Brooks, Karl, Dean, Bartholomew C., Gibson, Jane W., Paolisso, Michael
School: University of Kansas
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Agriculture, Environmental science
Keywords: Chesapeake Bay, Cultural models, Farming, Maryland, Nutrient management, Water quality
Publication Number: 3369213
ISBN: 978-1-109-31069-6
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