Research increasingly calls for agricultural systems to account for the well-being of local communities. However, designing and implementing a sustainable system that creates shared value for farmers and local populations remains a challenge, especially with continuous social and environmental changes that put pressure on agricultural management decisions. Managing agricultural landscapes involves making crucial decisions that profoundly recondition our ecosystem and the state of being of local communities. This study aims to produce a deeper understanding of the way farmers integrate community well-being (CWB) into their decision-making process and how this integration is perceived to influence community and farmer well-being. By examining the complex interactions between personal and place-based attributes and the broader economic, social, and political settings, this project seeks to capture the mechanisms by which agriculture supports, or can act in favor of, long-term CWB. This project will make use of interview and survey data collected in 2022 as part of a larger project investigating barriers and bridges to the diversification of agricultural systems in the U.S. In the proposed study, I will use regression analysis to examine the survey data, and the qualitative data from the interviews will be analyzed following a 5-step procedure. This procedure includes a compiling step where field notes will be organized, a disassembling procedure to break the compiled data down into smaller parts to ease the coding process, a reassembling phase where coded data will be reorganized into different groupings and sequences of themes, and two final procedures that involve the interpretation and conclusion in line with prior research. The analysis will try to capture the perceptions of community and farmer well-being, common types of management decisions influenced by well-being concerns, and individual and place-based attributes associated with the integration of well-being in agricultural decision-making. These analyses will be compared to a developed descriptive composite measure of community well-being to determine to what extent farmer decisions, farmer well-being, and farmer perceived community well-being are related to measurable characteristics of community well-being. Findings from this study will facilitate the identification of innovative ways to provide solutions for sustainable agriculture by developing strategies that account more for human well-being in management decisions that could potentially lead to improved community well-being and improved farmer well-being. Such an understanding will help agricultural officials, local government officials, and other stakeholders engaged in agriculture with planning and priority setting.
Project objectives from proposal:
The target population of this project includes primarily farmers who are the centerpiece of the agriculture sector and public and private organizations that interact with agricultural producers that have the potential to drive changes in agricultural landscapes such as extension professionals, agricultural suppliers, local government program officials, lenders, and other agricultural intermediaries. Farmers will better understand common types of management decisions that account for CWB and how this integration is perceived to influence community and farmer well-being (Farmer Learning Outcome). With such an increase in their understanding, agricultural producers will be better equipped to engage in management practices beneficial for the whole community, including all farmers (Farmer Action Outcome). In addition to farmers, there is a need for public and private organizations that interact with and assist farmers to better understand management decisions that account for CWB and farmers’ consideration when making decisions. Getting more information on common types of management decisions that could lead to improved community well-being and farmer well-being will inform the contents of interactions between organization personnel and agricultural producers that are more prone to improve and sustain long-term community and farmer well-being (Organization Action Outcome). The proposed study will allow organizations to examine in what ways their current work orient farmers to engage in common types of management decisions that integrate human well-being and identify potential gaps in their current strategies with respect to community and farmer well-being (Organization Learning Outcome).