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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Farmers’ use of information sources in British Columbia Shaw, Kenneth L.


This study is an investigation of the sources of information used by farmers in British Columbia. The study had four specific objectives: to determine what sources of information farmers in British Columbia use and how much they value them, to determine the relationships that exist between demographic characteristics and the use of information sources, to determine if there were significant differences in demographic characteristics of those who do or do not use British Columbia government extension services, and to compare the level of contact district agriculturists and horticulturists have with farmers with that measured in 1969. A survey was mailed to a stratified random sample of farmers. A total of 100farmers responded, and this forms a representative sample of agricultural producers in British Columbia. Out of the 10 groups of individuals who formally provide extension information to farmers, agri-business sales representatives have the highest level of contact, followed by the district agriculturist and horticulturist. The most frequent method of contact between providers of extension information and farmers is through mail, fax, or computer. The least frequent method of contact is through farm visits. The most frequently used source of written information was general farm papers, followed by British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture publications. The number of farmers reporting that they obtained information from a visit to a British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture demonstration site is the same as the number obtaining information from visits to foreign countries. Visits to other farms was reported as being a significant source of information. A strong consistent positive correlation was found against farm sales for both sales representatives and financial advisors for several forms of contact. Farmers of all demographic backgrounds are obtaining information at meetings and field days, as no correlations were found between this method and any demographic variable. Farmers place increasing value on commercial supplier publications as the value of their farm sales increases. Farmers obtaining information from the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture were, on average, younger, more educated, and had higher off-farm income and farm sales than those who did not. On a province wide basis, a comparison of the level of contact between farmers and district agriculturists and horticulturists found that these contacts were at a higher level as compared with those observed in 1969. The research conducted was not a diffusion/adoption study and no information was collected about how innovative the farmers were who responded to the survey. In addition, no information on how farmers made their judgements about the "value" of various information sources was obtained. This study does not explain why farmers consult the various sources, or what information they obtain from each one. Caution must be exercised in drawing conclusions that the Ministry of Agriculture is providing a better level of service than in 1969. These results simply report the status of contact during those two time periods.

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