Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 445–459 | Cite as

Socio-cultural processes behind the differential distribution of organic farming in Denmark: a case study

  • Marie-Louise Risgaard
  • Pia Frederiksen
  • Pernille Kaltoft
Article

Abstract

Conversion to organic farming, along with its associated driving forces and barriers, has been explored intensively over the past decade, while studies on the distribution and impacts of local socio-cultural processes in relation to conversion to and diffusion of organic farming have been scarce. The concentration of organic farms in Denmark differs according to county and, moreover, there appears to be large within-county variation in the density of organic farms. The present study explores local aspects of conversion to organic farming and the factors that may help explain variation in density and concentration of organic farms within smaller areas. The study is based on nine qualitative interviews with organic farmers from two neighboring areas, referred to as “mainland” and “island,” respectively. Three farms were situated in the high-density area (mainland) and the remaining six in the low-density area (island). Furthermore, five advisors with connections to the area provided information with regard to their local experience and perceptions. Three main, and to some extent interacting, issues are discussed. The first is the price of land related to local scarcity of land, in the context of structural development and the effects of agricultural policies. The second is distance – both physical and social. Cooperation and exchange of experience among organic farmers was frequent on the mainland side, while isolation and lack of interaction was more common for the island farmers. Third, the role of the agricultural advisory service and the existence of champion farmers are important: pioneer farmers on the mainland have been supported by committed agricultural advisors, while lack of organic champion farmers and low priority granted to organic farming among agricultural advisors were found on the island.

Keywords

Differential distribution Diffusion Organic farming Socio-cultural processes 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Louise Risgaard
    • 1
    • 3
  • Pia Frederiksen
    • 2
  • Pernille Kaltoft
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Policy AnalysisNational Environmental Research InstituteRoskildeDenmark
  3. 3.AugustenborgDenmark

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