Agri-Environmental Governance II: Interventions and social influence

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Rural Geography Specialty Group, Environmental Perception and Behavioral Geography Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Plaza Court 6, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: Kira Sullivan-Wiley, Landon Yoder
Chairs: Landon Yoder


This session is meant to bring together scholars interested in the social and institutional in agri-environmental governance (AEG). AEG refers to the formal and informal institutional arrangements that govern coupled human-natural systems predominantly under agriculture. This governance system has been recognized as critical in shaping outcomes related to biodiversity, food production, and clean water, and has important implications for rural livelihoods, energy consumption, and the resilience of these systems to the emerging impacts of climate change (Foley et al. 2005; Kramer et al. 2017).

Despite the recognized role of agricultural management in shaping the health of both our food and water systems on a global scale, there remain gaps in our understanding of what drives farmer decisions to adopt more pro-environment practices. Programs specifically targeting farmer behavior have seen mixed results in promoting the adoption of conservation practices (Kuhfuss et al. 2016; Carlisle 2016; Ribaudo 2015, Gunningham & Sinclair 2005). The past decades have seen great strides in understanding individual farmer risk perceptions (e.g., Fleming and Vanclay 2009), the diffusion of new technologies among farmers (e.g., Coughenour 2003), and in the socio-economic factors that contribute to land management decisions (e.g., Helling et al. 2015). Our understanding of individual farmer action has grown, but research on the social and institutional factors shaping farm decisions remains a critical gap (Yoder et al. 2019).

More work is needed to explore how social dynamics, institutional arrangements, conservation interventions, and payments for ecosystem service (PES) programs motivate or constrain on-farm conservation behaviors. One growing area of research is the role of "good farmer" identities and social norms in encouraging or discouraging adoption (Burton 2004; McGuire et al. 2013). Subsidies and other policy incentives rarely account for existing social dynamics in their design (Burton & Paragawewa 2011; Emery & Franks 2012; Leventon et al. 2017), despite evidence that encouraging farmers to cooperate with one another on conservation can generate greater adoption rates than traditional approaches using individual contracts (Narloch et al. 2017; Del Corso et al. 2017). Lastly, governance research in this area has rarely measured how conservation outcomes from management decisions may influence farmer perceptions of efficacy and thus feed back into decision-making (Reimer et al. 2014; Boardman et al. 2017).

We invite papers that focus on the following:
• Social interaction in shaping land use and management
• Formal and informal institutions as they relate to land use and management
• Social dynamics in AEG and PES interventions or projects (e.g., norms, power, culture, art, storytelling)
• Outcomes and learning in AEG and PES (e.g., social learning, adaptive learning, experience and efficacy)
• Participation in AEG and PES

Interested applicants should send abstracts (max 250 words) to Kira Sullivan-Wiley ( and Landon Yoder ( by October 25, 2019

Reference list
Boardman, J., S. Bateman, and S. Seymour. 2017. Understanding the influence of farmer motivations on changes to soil erosion risk on sites of former serious erosion in the South Downs National Park, UK. Land Use Policy 60:298–312.

Burton, R. J. F. 2004. Seeing through the "good farmer"s' eyes: Towards developing an understanding of the social symbolic value of "productivist" behaviour. Sociologia Ruralis 44 (2):195–215.

Burton, R. J. F., and U. H. Paragahawewa. 2011. Creating culturally sustainable agri-environmental schemes. Journal of Rural Studies 27:95–104.

Carlisle, L. 2016. Factors influencing farmer adoption of soil health practices in the United States: A narrative review. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 40 (6):583–613.

Coughenour, C. M. 2003. Innovating conservation agriculture: The case of no-till cropping. Rural Sociology 68 (2):278–304.

Del Corso, J.-P., T. D. P. G. Nguyen, and C. Kephaliacos. 2017. Acceptance of a payment of ecosystem services scheme: The decisive influence of collective action. Environmental Values 26:177–202.

Emery, S. B., and J. R. Franks. 2012. The potential for collaborative agri-environment schemes in England: Can a well-designed collaborative approach address farmers' concerns with current schemes? Journal of Rural Studies 28:218–231.

Fleming, A., & Vanclay, F. (2010). Farmer responses to climate change and sustainable agriculture: A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 30(1), 11–19.

Foley, J. A., R. DeFries, G. P. Asner, C. Barford, G. Bonan, S. R. Carpenter, F. S. Chapin, M. T. Coe, G. C. Daily, H. K. Gibbs, J. H. Helkowski, T. Holloway, E. A. Howard, C. J. Kucharik, C. Monfreda, J. A. Patz, I. C. Prentice, N. Ramankutty, and P. K. Snyder. 2005. Global Consequences of Land Use. Science 309:570–574.

Gunningham, N., & Sinclair, D. (2005). Policy Instrument Choice and Diffuse Source Pollution. Journal of Environmental Law, 17(1), 51-81

Helling, A., Conner, D., Heiss, S., & Berlin, L. (2015). Economic analysis of climate change best management practices in Vermont agriculture. Agriculture, 5(3), 879-900.

Kramer, D. B., J. Hartter, A. E. Boag, M. Jain, K. Stevens, K. Ann Nicholas, W. J. McConnell, and J. Liu. 2017. Top 40 questions in coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) research. Ecology and Society 22(2):44.

Kuhfuss, L., R. Préget, S. Thoyer, and N. Hanley. 2016. Nudging farmers to enrol land into agri-environmental schemes: The role of a collective bonus. European Review of Agricultural Economics 43 (4):609–636.

Leventon, J., T. Schaal, S. Velten, J. Dänhardt, J. Fischer, D. J. Abson, and J. Newig. 2017. Collaboration or fragmentation? Biodiversity management through the common agricultural policy. Land Use Policy 64:1–12.

McGuire, J., L. W. Morton, and A. D. Cast. 2013. Reconstructing the Good Farmer Identity: Shifts in Farmer Identities and Farm Management Practices to Improve Water Quality. Agriculture and Human Values 30:57–69.

Narloch, U., A. G. Drucker, and U. Pascual. 2017. What role for cooperation in conservation tenders? Paying farmer groups in the High Andes. Land Use Policy 63:659–671.

Reimer, A. P., A. W. Thompson, L. S. Prokopy, J. G. Arbuckle Jr, K. Genskow, D. Jackson-Smith, G. Lynne, L. McCann, L. W. Morton, and P. Nowak. 2014. People, place, behavior, and context: A research agenda for expanding our understanding of what motivates farmers' conservation behaviors. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 69 (2):57A-61A.

Ribaudo, M. 2015. The limits of voluntary conservation programs. Choices 30 (2):1–5.

Yoder, L., A. S. Ward, K. Dalrymple, S. Spak, and R. Lave. 2019. An analysis of conservation practice adoption studies in agricultural human-natural systems. Journal of Environmental Management 236:490–498.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Leo Mercer*, , The case for an indigenous carbon credit premium in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme 15 9:35 AM
Presenter Kaitlyn Spangler*, Utah State University, Emily Burchfield, Emory University, Britta Schumacher, Utah State University, Assessing drivers and tradeoffs of landscape diversification within U.S. agricultural systems 15 9:50 AM
Presenter Sara Cavallo*, Penn State University, Rooting knowledge networks: understanding farmer knowledge sharing and learning during biosecurity interventions 15 10:05 AM
Presenter Rachel Singer*, Guelph University, Xiaoyuan Wan, Guelph University, Wayne Caldwell, Guelph University, Power in Policy: Measuring Farmland Loss in Ontario and Testing the Strength of the Greenbelt Act 15 10:20 AM
Presenter Garrett Graddy-Lovelace*, American University School of International Service, Farmer and Non-Farmer Responsibility to Each Other, or: That Old Secret Crisis of Surplus 15 10:35 AM

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