Sustainable beef certification: Exploring willingness to participate among Ontario beef producers

by Jodie Eadie

Institution: University of Waterloo
Year: 2018
Keywords: Sustainable; Ontario Beef; Diffusion of Innovation; Certification
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2153955
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12893


Sustainable beef certification is an evolving initiative, currently in the planning stages, that seeks to provide consumers with a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable beef product through certification of beef farm production that meet selected indicators. However, the degree to which the sustainable beef certification program will be adopted by producers is currently uncertain as little is known as to how beef producers view voluntary programs such as a sustainable beef certification. The purpose of this research is to understand what factors influence Ontario beef producers to participate in sustainable beef certification. Through utilizing diffusion of innovation theory as the foundation for this study, a number of variables related to farm characteristics, social norms, decision-making, and the characteristics of the certification program itself were identified and their significance related to willingness to adopt the sustainable beef certification program was evaluated. This research identified a number of variable that were found to significantly influence the willingness to adopt sustainable beef certification and makes recommendations related to program design that response to these findings and may help improve adoption rates of the beef certification program.. A paper and online survey was distributed to Ontario beef producers and 147 responses were gathered. Surveys were analyzed to identify relationships between characteristics of the decision-making unit, characteristics of the innovation and a willingness to certify. Prior conditions within the Ontario beef farming community were explored including social norms, previous practice and felt needs. Characteristics of the decision-making unit were investigated with results revealing that there was a significant relationship between age and education level and a willingness to certify with a future sustainable beef certification. Significant relationships with socio-demographic variables and various communication methods emerged with younger generation, and more educated farmers preferring online mediums for communication, providing valuable insights into how to target communication approaches for future programs. Various characteristics of the innovation were explored in regards to motivators and barriers to participation. Motivators such as product sold at a premium, access to markets, and product demand were motivators deemed significant. Barriers identified as significant included time constraints, increased record keeping, changing consumer demands and operation size. Though the level of familiarity with the concept of sustainable certification was limited among respondents, when provided with a definition, 80% of respondents indicated a willingness to certify. Further to this, when asked how soon they would be willing to certify, 70% indicated that they would want to see how it works prior to certifying.