Perceptions of agricultural producers as participants of domestic farm policy programs: implications for education
Parker, Rebecca Hall
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The purpose of this record of study was to examine the perceptions held by a targeted "grassroots" society composed of agricultural producers regarding farm policy goals, policy commodity components, and operational factors as potential barriers to successful policy. The study also examined the relationship of the government defined and "grassroots" perceived intended outcomes of current components to seek areas of needed education or research. A researcher developed questionnaire was used to collect the data from members/producers of USDA, FSA county committees in Texas. The questionnaire consisted of 37 questions divided into three sections: demographic and farm data; policy perception data; and operational issues. Ultimately, there were a total of 761 surveys returned from 175 FSA county committees of 206 (85%) representing farms and ranches from 232 of 254 counties (91% of counties) in Texas. Descriptive statistics and one-way ANOVA were used to examine the data. Major findings, identified through descriptive analysis, were that the producer respondents in the study were predominately male, between the ages of 36 - 65 years of age and Caucasian. As a group, the producer respondents will be farming and ranching to provide food and fiber for a population much more diverse than itself. The perception data collected yielded that, while some general and important conclusions can be drawn from the data, the different size/types of producers had different opinions, knowledge levels, and therefore, educational needs. Overall, policy goals involving global orientation and the supply and stabilization of farm income for producers were high targets for educational needs by the respondents. Respondents also considered those policy tools providing producer control or proprietary decision making as high areas of need for education. Several operational issues noted educational needs such as individual handling of landowner/tenant issues, administrative costs/changes, and changes in commodity programs.