A Case Study Using Q Methodology to Explore the Attitudinal Orientation of High Plains Sorghum Producers Toward Sustainable Agricultural Practices



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In September 2022, National Sorghum Producers (NSP) was awarded a $65 million grant from the USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program to finance a pilot project focused on implementing climate-smart practices on sorghum acreage. NSP was then tasked with developing a strategic and comprehensive communications plan to disseminate information about this program and persuade producers to participate. The purpose of this study was to utilize Q Methodology and the Elaboration Likelihood Model to explore the attitudinal orientation of sorghum producers toward agricultural sustainability and evaluate best practices for message delivery. An online survey was distributed to sorghum producers in the High Plains through which information was gathered regarding agricultural sustainability perspectives, current levels of implementation of sustainable agricultural practices, and willingness to adopt new sustainable agricultural practices. Results showed that sorghum producers fell into one of three categories of attitudinal orientation: A) producers concerned about the profitability of implementing sustainable agricultural practices with low levels of current implementation and willingness to adopt new practices, B) producers invested in the long-term sustainability and productivity of their farmland with high levels of current implementation and willingness to adopt new practices, and C) producers despite holding strong beliefs that sustainability was necessary to maintain the productively of their property and having high levels of current implementation and willingness to adopt new practices, also expressed strong concerns about the financial viability of adopting sustainable agricultural practices. Implications from this study reveal a need for NSP to develop messaging about the connection between profitability and agricultural sustainability and financial risk mitigation into all communications regarding program participation.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2173. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



agricultural communications, Q Method, sustainability, attitudes, perspectives