Social, Economic and Psychological Factors in Decisions of Alberta Farmers

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  • A central role of the farm operator, and one that determines the ability of the operator to cope with uncertainty, is the making of decisions. The situations which necessitate decisions on the farm are complicated by the dual nature of the farm household which encompasses two separate, yet inextricably linked, entities: the farm firm and the farm family. Farm decision makers must consider the multitude of complex factors which have an impact on both of these entities. In addition, the decision makers must also contemplate the needs of both the farm firm and the farm family, which are often in competition with each other for scarce resources. The role of a farm decision maker is especially important in conditions of instability such as are currently being experienced by farmers in Alberta as a result of markets, prices, changing government policy for agriculture and the economic climate in Alberta in general. The farm operator, faced with making important financial decisions in a time of economic instability, is more likely to experience financial stress than he/she would in a more stable time. Literature published by government and university research groups often address the farm manger, or 'business farmer,' who views the farm as a business enterprise and makes decisions according to strict business principles. The opposite stereotype, that of a 'life-style farmer' who enjoys farming as an occupation and a way of life, is hardly addressed. In reality, these stereotypes do not exist. Business-oriented farm operators are not solely influenced in their farm decisions by economic factors. Neither is the social farmer motivated by seemingly non-economic criteria alone. Instead, there are many factors which simultaneously influence farm operators, and this combination of factors affects the outcome of the decision-making process. This study aims to discover these factors of diverse nature.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International