Date of Award
Master of Science
Due to the growing recognition of the social and ecological consequences of the global decline in pollinator species, the need for more effective policies for the conservation of pollinator habitat is now more than ever. These trends call for research that provides a deeper understanding of farmers' decision-making processes. In this regard, this study tested a modified version of the Theory of Planned Behavior as a conceptual model for explaining farmers' perceptions and behavior regarding the adoption of pollinator conservation programs and practices. Specifically, the study tested how farmers' perceived behavioral control, attitudes, subjective norms, concern about herbicide resistance issues, and sociodemographic variables influence their intentions and actual adoption of pollinator conservation programs and practices. Quantitative survey data were gathered from 41 principal farm operators in the state of Illinois through the administration of a web-based survey. The resulting data were first explored using descriptive statistics and correlation analysis, following which multiple regression analysis was used to test four hypotheses on the predictors of farmers' intentions to adopt, as well as their adoption of pollinator conservation practices and programs. The results from the regression analysis showed that farmers' attitudes and their subjective norms had statistically significant positive effects on their adoption of pollinator conservation practices on their farms, as well as their intentions to adopt those practices in the near future. Perceived behavioral control also had a statistically significant positive effect on farmers' adoption of federal pollinator conservation programs, as well as their intentions to enroll in these programs in the future. Overall, these findings call for comprehensive pollinator conservation policies that facilitate the provision of information and incentives for farmers to voluntarily adopt pollinator conservation practices on their farms, as well as the provision of appropriate resources and opportunities for farmers to enroll in pollinator conservation programs over which they have minimal control.
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