Water Resources Management

, Volume 31, Issue 9, pp 2837–2851

Profiling Farmers’ Preferences about Drought Response Policies Using a Choice Experiment in the Okanagan Basin, Canada

  • Steven A. Conrad
  • Murray B. Rutherford
  • Wolfgang Haider


Farmers can play a crucial role in water management during water shortages, yet little is known concerning the preferences of farmers for various options in drought response planning. In this paper we demonstrate the use of a discrete choice experiment to investigate the preferences of farmers about options for drought response policies in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. In the choice experiment, three policy instruments were varied across possible drought response plans: mandatory reductions in water supply, reallocation of entitlements to available water, and opportunities for water trading. Results show that participating farmers, as a whole, were more likely to accept drought response plans with moderate levels of mandatory water reductions, water allocations according to the sensitivity of crops to water loss, and opportunities for water trading between farmers. When analyzed according to the primary crop cultivated, grape growers were more likely to prefer drought response plans with opportunities for water trading between all water users, whereas ranchers were more likely to prefer drought response plans that feature high levels of mandatory water reductions. We contrast our findings with preconceptions about farmers’ preferences concerning water use policies. We also discuss broader implications of the research, including the usefulness of choice experiments for informing the development of effective drought response policies.


Drought response plans Discrete choice experiment Farmer preferences Water shortage Water trading Water allocation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Resource and Environmental ManagementSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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