Decisions made by farmers have a strong impact on the environment. One of the goals of agri-environment schemes (AESs) is to influence farmers into making positive contributions to the environment. They are generally voluntary and encourage farmers to participate by paying them for the provision of environmental services. It is important to understand the drivers of farmer behaviour and the choices they make with regards to AESs as this will aid policy makers in creating schemes that have a wider scope and achieve goals. Using Ireland as a case-study, this paper examines farmers’ attitudes to farming, the environment and AESs. A number of attitudinal statements put to 1000 Irish farmers are condensed to seven different attitude groups using factor analysis. These attitudinal variables, along with numerous farm and farmer characteristics, are used in a logistic regression analysis to examine their role in determining participation in AESs. This shows that attitudes especially those pertaining to the benefits and drawbacks of AESs are significant to the participation decision; however there is added complexity from attitudes to farming and the environment. Given the diversity of drivers of farmer behaviour, the design of policies is primordial and must not only be focused on pecuniary aspects but also take into account the wide diversity of farmers in terms of both characteristics and attitudes.


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