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Converting or not converting to organic farming in Austria: Farmer types and their rationale
Reasons for converting to organic farming have been studied in a number of instances. However, the underlying rationale that motivates behaviour is not always made clear. This study aims to provide a detailed picture of farmers’ decision making and illustrate the choice between organic and conventional farm management. Based on 21 interviews with farmers a decision tree highlighting the reasons and constraints involved in the decision of farmers to use, or not to use, organic production techniques was formulated. The accuracy of the decision tree was tested through a written survey of 65 randomly sampled farmers. The decision tree allows to identify decision criteria and examines the decision making process of farmers in choosing their farming method. It also allows to characterize farmer strategies and values, identifying five types of farmers: the ‘committed conventional’, the ‘pragmatic conventional’, the ‘environment-conscious but not organic’, the ‘pragmatic organic’ and the ‘committed organic’. The importance of taking into account heterogeneity in farmers’ attitudes, preferences and goals and their impact on the choice of farming method is emphasized.