Kansas: Why Farmers Grow Biofuel Crops

Agriculture has been criticized for its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), but there has not been sufficient research investigating how agriculture can be beneficial in a future with climate change. One beneficial solution is biofuel cultivation, which according to the 2009 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) would significantly reduce GHG emissions (White and Selfa, 2013). As one of the most productive agricultural states, Kansas was chosen by White and Selfa as a valuable case study to investigate factors that influence the farmer decision-making process regarding innovations. Prior to the case study, White and Selfa conducted a literature review on previous studies done nationally and internationally. From the data they developed a conceptual model of key elements involved in farmer decisions. With this model in mind White and Selfa conducted their own study in Kansas by interviewing 16 key informants with expertise in agriculture and environmental issues and 17 farmers. The study concluded that farmers were influential in adopting a new idea such as biofuel cultivation by local environmental conditions, communication through existing social relations, the assurance of farmers continual independence, a contribution to a greater societal good, and whether change was more economically advantageous than previous practices. –Caroline Vurlumis


White, S., Selfa, T., 2013. Shifting Lands: Exploring Kansas Farmers Decision-Making in an Era of Climate Change and Biofuels Production. Environmental Management 51.2, 379-391

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