Are independent agricultural advisors more oriented towards recommending reduced pesticide use than supplier-affiliated advisors?

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This paper explores whether agricultural advisors employed by chemical companies or agricultural companies selling pesticides (supplier-affiliated advisors)are more likely to recommend more intensive use of pesticides than advisors employed by companies without an economic interest in selling pesticides (independent advisors). We further test whether potential differences in advice are caused by differences in advisors’ perceived demands for advice from farmers, different environmental risk perceptions about pesticide use or different weighing of the purposes of pesticide use. The analysis is based on a survey administered to the whole population of 540 advisors in Denmark; we received 227 valid responses. The main finding is that pesticide advice differs across company type. We find that supplier-affiliated advisors are less likely to recommend lower doses – scoring on average 3.9 on a scale from 1 (never)to 5 (always). Independent advisors employed at Danish Agricultural Advisory Services score an average of 4.3. The difference is statistically significant. The analysis does not offer strong support for the different causal mediators we examined. Advisors across company type tend to weigh different objectives equally; tend to agree on environmental risk perception of using pesticides; and differ only slightly on perceived farmer demand. One possible conclusion, therefore, is that explanation is as simply that differences in economic incentives produce different recommendations between advisory companies. Policy implications of the findings are that the European Union should consider addressing this difference more directly when regulating the use of pesticides in European agriculture through e.g. the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (Directive, 2009/128/EC). More differentiation in the approaches for informing different types of advisors might be needed. Moreover, our results point towards the need for knowledge about whether advisors in other countries than Denmark tend to believe that approved pesticides are innocuous to the environment because such perceptions might hamper initiatives to reduce the doses of approved pesticides.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Pages (from-to)507-514
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 222748508