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Abstract

Interviews and mail-out/mail-back surveys were conducted in 1992 with 38 conventional and 41 sustainable North Dakota farmers. The results emphasize the differences and similarities of these two types of farmers. Sustainable farms had more diverse cropping practices and were more likely to raise alternative crops like alfalfa, buckwheat, hay, millet, oats, and rye than conventional farmers. Conventional farmers were more likely to raise traditional crops like barley, sugar beets, sunflowers, and spring wheat. Conventional farmers averaged substantially higher crop yields than sustainable farmers. Three-fourths of the sustainable farmers raised livestock compared with one-half of the conventional farmers. Conventional farmers had greater equity, assets, gross farm income, and net farm income than sustainable farmers. Conventional and sustainable farmers reported nearly the same amount of satisfaction with farming as an occupation, the same stress levels, and the same perceived skill requirements.

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