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Do Farm Characteristics or Social Dynamics Explain the Conversion to Organic Farming by Dairy Farmers? An Agent-Based Model of Dairy Farming in 27 French Cantons

Qing Xu (), Sylvie Huet (), Eric Perret () and Guillaume Deffuant ()
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Sylvie Huet: http://motive.cemagref.fr/people/sylvie.huet
Guillaume Deffuant: http://motive.cemagref.fr/people/guillaume.deffuant

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 2020, vol. 23, issue 2, 4

Abstract: The drivers of conversion to organic farming, which is still a residual choice in agriculture, are poorly understood. Many scholars argue that farm characteristics can determine this choice but do not exclude the role of social dynamics. To study this issue, we developed an agent-based model in which agents' decisions to shift to organic farming are based on a comparison between satisfaction with the current situation and potential satisfaction with an alternative farming strategy. A farmer agent’s satisfaction is modelled using the Theory of Reasoned Action. This makes it necessary to compare an agent's productions over time with those of other agents to whom the former attributes considerable credibility (“important others†). Moreover, farmers make technical changes that affect their productions by imitating other credible farmers. While we first used this model to examine simple and abstract farm populations, here we also adapted it for use with data from an Agricultural Census concerning the farm characteristics of dairy farming in 27 French “cantons†. Based on domain expertise, data and previous research, we propose certain laws for modelling the impact of conversion on the farm production of milk and the environment. The simulations with “real†populations of farms confirm the important impact of farm characteristics. However, our results also suggest a complex impact of social dynamics that can favour or impede the diffusion of organic farming through dynamic implicit networks of similarity and credibility. We confirm the great importance of demographic changes in farm characteristics.

Keywords: Organic Farming; Adaptation; Theory of Reasoned Action; Agent-Based Model; Social Influence; Credibility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-03-31
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:jas:jasssj:2018-53-3

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