Farmers Actions and Attitudes with Respect to Agricultural Pollution

McArthur, Christopher Ian (1995). Farmers Actions and Attitudes with Respect to Agricultural Pollution. MPhil thesis The Open University.



Research has been undertaken by me to establish farmer attitudes and actions regarding control of livestock wastes and associated pollution problems.

Little research has been attempted in this area, despite new legislation being imposed on the farming community.

The aim of my study was to establish by a series of interviews and questionnaires, with a random selection of farmers, their opinions and levels of knowledge in respect of environmental topics such as:- legislation, pollution, financial and information sources.

From my research a number of important issues have been detailed that should assist regulatory authorities such as MAFF and NRA, to work more effectively with the agricultural community, in controlling pollution arising from livestock wastes.

Enforcement of legislation pertaining to agricultural wastes is rigorously enforced in UK yet little information exists as to the expected improved river water quality that should result. Farmers have indicated to me that continuation of the grant for effluent control schemes is crucial, if their co-operation and financial viability is to be maintained in this area of environmental improvement.

The approach by the authorities to farmers has been demonstrated to be fragmented and contradictory. Although they utilise some formal advice, it is the articles in agricultural journals that are frequently used to provide detail on new legislation and practical requirements. It has been found that such articles are generally technically accurate and are seasonal, to represent current problems.

Some evidence has been found that authorities do not always apply regulatory requirements in an even and correct manner. Lack of training and detailed guidelines is evident from my research and there is a need to address these concerns. The authorities must consider the cost benefits for the environment question, to sustain a strategy, that has cost significant sums to individual farmers and the tax payer.

The attitudes of most farmers approached was positive in respect of environmental matters and little difference was detected between the groups of active and non-environmentalists. Many of the livestock farmers undertook remedial work at their own instigation when pollution occurred, with NRA insistence being in the minority.

It has found however that number of farm pollution incidents are now beginning to decrease on an annual basis, due to a number of interrelated factors. A more effective working relationship between all parties involved is necessary, if a sustained improvement in river water quality is to be achieved on a consistent basis.

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