Agricultural Implications of Unconventional Natural Gas Development: Divergent Perceptions of Sustainable and Conventional Farmers

Melissa N. Poulsen, Lisa Bailey-Davis, Joseph DeWalle, Jacob Mowery, Brian S. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study explored sustainable and conventional farmers’ perceptions of unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) as it relates to agricultural production and distribution. Farmers (n = 200) in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale region with gas drilling infrastructure on or near their farmland completed questionnaires; a subset (n = 16) of survey respondents participated in semi-structured interviews. Findings revealed sustainable farmers faced unique negative impacts from UNGD, including greater sensitivity to environmental impacts, risks to organic certification and market participation, declining consumer confidence, and depreciating value of sustainable operations. UNGD-related income and increased wealth within communities appeared to benefit agricultural production and sales, yet the most cited impact of UNGD on agricultural productivity was a decrease in crop production as farmland was used for UNGD. Findings also highlighted potential impacts on nascent local food markets in areas with UNGD, farmers’ expectations for outside oversight of UNGD, and limited transparency of environmental safety violations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
JournalCulture, Agriculture, Food and Environment
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Marcellus shale
  • farmer perceptions
  • fracking
  • mixed methods
  • sustainable agriculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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