In the face of change: A rapid reconnaissance survey of Northwest horticultural crop producers

Laura S. Brophy, Helene Murray, Larry S. Lev, Richard P. Dick, Lorna M. Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

A rapid reconnaissance survey (sondeo) of twenty-five western Oregon and Washington horticultural producers was conducted using interdisciplinary interviewing teams and flexible on-farm interviews. The group interviewed included both certified organic and conventional farmers who are adopting innovative production methods. Our objectives were to determine the primary factors affecting the choice of farming methods, to identify growers' responses to these factors, to examine the effectiveness of the sondeo technique for gathering such information, to build a team for the longer-term studies, and to locate growers to participate in the longer-term studies. The growers shared characteristics that crossed organic-conventional boundaries. Less experienced growers identified practical crop management issues as their primary problems, while the more experienced ones were concerned with labor and regulatory problems. Most conventional growers were reducing their reliance on agricultural chemicals; organic producers generally used fewer agricultural chemicals, but many relied on organically certified insecticides. A primary regulatory concern among conventional growers was the loss of pesticide registrations for minor crops. Both organic and conventional growers were concerned about government regulation of farm labor, particularly increased paperwork and changing immigration law. Many growers attempted to provide good working conditions to retain a reliable labor force, but a few are mechanizing the harvest to reduce labor requirements. They were aware of the increasing public interest in the health aspects of agricultural methods and were responding with modified chemical use, direct involvement in public education, and membership in commodity groups, cooperative marketing groups, and other grower organizations. The sondeo was a fast and low-cost method for gathering information and provided team members with an interdisciplinary perspective that will be valuable in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Alternative Agriculture
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1991

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