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Risk of public disclosure in environmental farm plan programs: characteristics and mitigating legal and policy strategies

By E. K. Yiridoe

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Abstract

Although various studies have shown that farmers believe there is the need for a producer-led initiative to address the environmental problems from agriculture, farmers in several Canadian provinces have been reluctant to widely participate in Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) programmes. Few studies have examined the key issues associated with adopting EFP programmes based on farmers', as opposed to policy makers', perspectives on why producers are reluctant to participate in the programme. A study adapting Van Raaij's (1981) conceptual model of the decision-making environment of the firm, and prospect theory on value functions associated with the gains and losses from risky choices can be used to characterize how farmers perceive potential risks in environmental farm planning. This framework can be used to assert that farmers are concerned about risks of public disclosure of potentially incriminating environmental information from farms because the EFP programme requirements for identification and extensive documentation of farm information is perceived by farmers as facilitating the accessibility of environmental information to the public, and public investigative efforts. Although the EFP programme does not explicitly generate information about the environmental conditions of a farm nor the disclosure of such information to the public, it creates the possibility of generating and divulging potentially incriminating information that the farmer may want to treat as confidential. Yet, alone, these risks of public disclosure concerns should not prevent farmers from participating in the EFP. Awareness of and participation in environmental farm planning can be increased if farmers and policy makers understand what the risks are, and how they arise. Aspects of the EFP process that have the potential to generate risk of public disclosure concerns relate to farm reviews, documentation and record keeping, and corrective action plans. There are legal and policy instruments that can offer various forms of protection and help minimize such risks, and these need to be assessed.

Date 2000
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 13
Issue 1/2
Pages 101-120
ISBN/ISSN 0893-4282
DOI 10.1023/A:1009563920542
Language English
Author Address Department of Business and Social Science, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, P.O. Box 550, Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 5E3, Canada.
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Tags
  1. Agriculture
  2. Canada
  3. Choice
  4. Commonwealth of Nations
  5. Communities
  6. Constraints
  7. Decision making
  8. Developed countries
  9. Environment
  10. Farms
  11. Information
  12. models
  13. natural resources
  14. North America
  15. OECD countries
  16. participation
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Public opinion
  19. record keeping
  20. risk
  21. United States of America
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  1. peer-reviewed