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Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 756–771 | Cite as

Bridging the Divide: Challenges and Opportunities for Public Sector Agricultural Professionals Working with Amish and Mennonite Producers on Conservation

  • Caroline Brock
  • Jessica D. Ulrich-Schad
  • Linda Prokopy
Article

Abstract

As Amish and Old Order and Conservative Mennonite (i.e., Plain) farmers increase their presence in the agricultural sector, it is crucial for public sector agricultural professionals to effectively work with them to mediate nonpoint source pollution and address issues like the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. However, there is a dearth of research on how public sector agricultural professionals can better work with Plain producers on environmental management. There are also few training resources for those working with this key, yet hard to reach, population. Additionally, due to their religious doctrines, Plain communities strive to live apart from the “world” and may be discouraged from working with government entities and attending non-Plain people events. This study analyzes interview data from 23 Amish farmers in one region of Indiana and 18 public sector agricultural professionals from a variety of backgrounds and geographies in areas of the U.S. with heavy Plain populations. Public sector agricultural professionals identified some key agronomic challenges on Plain farms related to issues like poor pasture and manure management as well as socio-cultural challenges such as restrictions on electronic and phone communication. Educators should design outreach strategies that take into consideration that faith convictions and conservation concerns may vary greatly based on the specificities of the particular Plain church group. By better understanding this population and how to work with them, public sector agricultural professionals can more effectively work towards addressing environmental problems with this under-served group.

Keywords

Conservation practices Plain Amish Best management practices Agriculture 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the participating farmers and the many conservation agents, Extension agents who participated in interviews. We would also like to thank, Rebecca Oliver, for editorial assistance. Some of this research was funded by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.230 Gentry Hall, Division of Applied Social SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Sociology and Rural StudiesSouth Dakota State UniversityBrookingsUSA
  3. 3.Forestry & Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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