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agricultural decision making
Integrating Research & Lifestyle: Appreciating the Complexity of Farmer Decision-Making & Sustainability through Farm Stays
The uncle of a good friend of mine handed me a large stick at 8:30am on December 21st, as I sat with my cup of coffee and a copy of Kitschelt and Wilkinson’s (2007) Patrons, Policies, and Clientelism: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition. “This is for you, to club your rabbits with.” It was a nice stick, heavy, the diameter perfectly suited to my palm; about as long as my fingers to my elbow outstretched, smooth, as if it had been sanded with fine paper. He carried on, describing how a perfect swing could instantly take out an unassuming bunny. My mind wandered – has this farmer, being a vegetarian, ever come close to hitting a rabbit? Doubtful.
We just completed a paper on Extension 3.0 that will be submitted to the journal Society and Natural Resources. We are officially circulating the pre-publication as a CEPB white paper (see attachment). Here is the abstract:
CEPB researchers and colleagues have released a new research brief--"Rancher Attitudes and Participation in Conservation Easements in California"--as part of ongoing work on a USDA-funded project on grazing management and ecosystem services.
Data were collected from a survey of 475 ranchers in California. The research brief casts doubt on the stereotype that a strong property rights orientation is a barrier to conservation easements. Although ranchers expressed a strong commitment to private property rights, these attitudes had no significant relationship to the likelihood of currently holding a conservation easement, or planning to in the future. In contrast, positive views about government’s role in conservation significantly increase rates of current and future planned participation.
I went on a field trip today as part of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute's "National Symposium on Food and Sustainability." I was in a group focused on "resiliency", and we were paired with three general managers from local reclamation districts. Reclamation Districts are relatively unknown to most people, but they are local special district governments responsible for flood control, drainage, and irrigation. They have a long history of providing local public goods to agricultural landowners in California, with many of them dating back to the late 19th century.
We have just released our first "policy brief" from the sustainable viticulture project. The brief focuses on the perceived costs and benefits of sustainable viticulture practices and how uncertainty affects these evaluations. The report was widely distributed to study participants and other sustainable viticulture stakeholders. Click on the attachment below to download the report.
Earlier I wrote about trying to get a sense for ranching culture "in the understory". That is, through the up and coming ranchers who have grown up with more technology in their lives. At long last, a contact through our research partners made me aware of Jeff Fowle. I feel comfortable writing about him here since he has a facebook page, twitter account, blog, and linkedin account.
I'm currently engaged in one of the most enjoyable activities of my job: interviewing real people engaged in real environmental and agricultural decision-making situations. In this case, I'm talking about winegrape growers and winemakers in Napa Valley, who I am interviewing as part of the sustainable viticulture project. I've interviewed 6 people so far, and all of them have been interesting for different reasons.
One of the cool things about the Napa growers is that it gives me a chance to scratch beneath the surface of the country's premium wine region. The grape prices, land prices, and wine prices are the highest in the country. Napa growers feel they provide some of the best wine in the world (and most people agree), and also are leaders in sustainability.
Here are some of the interesting stories I've heard; these may or may not ever end up in a scientific publication but I can vouch for their authenticity:
As detailed on our projects page, our National Science Foundation study of sustainable viticulture is in full swing. But sustainable viticulture is not only a California phenomena. It is also occuring in countries like Australia, as illustrated by an interview about the Yalumba Wine Company.
I have been pedaling the idea of "Extension 3.0" in the context of several grants and also meetings with administrators. It is beginning to get some traction within the college and UC Division of Ag and Natural Resources. When an official of DANR forwaded some of these materials to his staff, he described the reaction as "shaking up a can of soda in the hallway" because everybody got excited. I think this is good news in the context of a bureaucracy. See the attachment for a summary of the idea.