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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Heterogeneity, challenges and potentials of organic farming S27

Noe, Egon

South Jutland University Center, Niels Bohrsvej 9, DK-6700 Esbjerg. Tel: +45 89991207, E-mail: en@sh.dk

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Organic farming in Denmark seems to have become a success. The number of organic farmers has increased remarkably over the past years. In 1995, 410 farmers converted to organic farming, an increase of more than 50%. In the light of this success, two opposing have arisen concerning future prospects. First, will the solid conventional farming background of the newer organic farmers change the current ideological platform of the organic movement, with its explicitly formulated and widely shared values? Second, with reference to the explicitly formulated strategic goal of the Danish Association of Organic Agriculture, that all agricultural production should become organic, how many farmers will convert? Will conversion be limited to a small number of conventional farmers who are specially interested in the environment?

One of the main objects of my Ph.D. project is to throw light on these questions, through the study of value orientation and styles of farming; based on a study of thirty-one Danish farmers - both organic and conventional livestock farmers, and a questionnaire answered by about 60% of all the organic farmers.

One of the main findings, concerning farming practice and values, is that there is a growing diversity among organic farmers; - a diversity which is found among the conventional livestock farmers as well. Differences within farming styles between the two groups, are limited. Rather, the differences between them are in perception of the general situation; the organic farmers believe they themselves can influence development, in contrast to the conventional farmers who believe that development is determined from without, by markets and technology. Despite growing diversity between individual organic farmers, they still have a common feeling of dissatisfaction with the general direction of agricultural production, and a broad concern for the environment. For many conventional livestock farmers, the shift to organic farming will not be extreme in terms of the technical and economical requirements, but will rather require a major change in view on society and environment.