Ethics of land use in Nebraska: Farmer and consumer opinions in Washington County

Mindi L. Schneider*, Charles A. Francis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural land is rapidly being converted to other uses, as city boundaries expand and acreage and rural residential developments increase. Building on a review of the history of environmental ethics, agroecological principles, Aldo Leopold's concept of the land ethic, and sociological research regarding environmental and agricultural paradigms, this study explored the attitudes of farmers and consumers in Washington County near Omaha, Nebraska, about land ethics relating to agriculture and land use. The objectives of the study were to (1) construct a set of items for measuring land ethics based on previous studies and scales, (2) determine if farmers and consumers in Washington County had positive land ethics, and (3) test for differences in land ethics between farmers and consumers, as well as differences in land ethics based on demographic and farm-related factors. Self-administered mail questionnaires were sent in August 2003 to all Washington County farmers registered with the Farm Service Agency, and 168 useful surveys were analyzed (35% response rate). A representative sample of consumers across the county was surveyed, and 207 useful surveys were analyzed (37% response rate). We found that farmers who owned and farmed large land areas were less concerned about land ethics issues than those with small farms. This study showed that farmers and consumers share an awareness of the importance of the land ethic, land use, and agriculture, contrary to a number of previous studies that showed consumers to be less concerned. In general, demographic variables are not always the best indicators of environmental ethics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-104
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sustainable Agriculture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural paradigms
  • Consumer surveys
  • Farmer surveys
  • Land ethics
  • Urbanization


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