Will Farmers Trade Profits for Stewardship? Heterogeneous Motivations for Farm Practice Selection

Hayley H. Chouinard, Tobias Paterson, Philip R. Wandschneider and Adrienne M. Ohler


We investigate the trade-off agricultural producers face between profits and stewardly activities when selecting farm practices. Instead of the profit-maximization framework, we model producer behavior in an expanded utility framework, built on production technology, and including two utility components: self and social interests. The framework introduces inherent heterogeneity and social/environmental motivations into farmer behavior. Based on this model, we hypothesize that there are farmers that are willing to forego some profit to engage in stewardly farm practices. With an empirical study, we provide evidence that some farmers are willing to make this sacrifice. Results are consistent with the multi-utility hypothesis. (JEL Q12, Q24)