Why do next generation farmers decide to invest in Farm businesses? : a means-end chain analysis of young Swedish farmers’ underlying values to invest in farm businesses

Detta är en Uppsats för yrkesexamina på avancerad nivå från SLU/Dept. of Economics

Sammanfattning: The growing world population will lead to an increased demand for food in the future. Feeding the population is considered to be the main function of agriculture. Previous literature has concluded that the share of young farmers in Sweden is too low, this is referred to as the Young farmer problem. This can partly be explained by the barriers hindering the next generation farmers from investing in farm businesses. To increase the production in the agriculture sector, young farmers need to invest in farm businesses since they are considered to be more productive and efficient than older farmers. Despite the need of young farmers, there is no previous research regarding why young farmers invest in farm businesses. We argue it is important to increase the understanding of why young farmers invest in farm businesses to emphasize the values of being a farmer and attract more young farmers to the agriculture sector. This study aims to identify the underlying end-values of young Swedish farmers when deciding to invest in farm businesses to increase the understanding of why young farmers in Sweden invest in farm businesses. To identify the end-values, the Means-end chain (MEC) theory is used together with laddering interviews. This approach is used to identify the young farmers’ cognitive structures regarding farm business investments among the 30 interviewed young Swedish farmers. The cognitive structures consist of attributes, consequences, and values. Further, the Personal value theory is used as a complement to the MEC theory to categorize the identified end-values into value-types and thereby achieve a more comprehensive analysis of the young farmers underlying values concerning farm business investments. The results of this study indicate that the studied young farmers invest in farm businesses due to seven underlying end-values; Well-being, Satisfaction, Freedom, Safety, Pride, Selffulfillment, and Confirmation. The young farmers decide to invest in farm businesses mainly since they want to be self-employed, have an interest in farm business, and think the work is enjoyable. They see an opportunity to make money, control their own time, and develop as a person. Well-being is the most common end-value and are mainly linked to Thrive, Close to nature, and Energizing. The most common ladder is Self-employment leading to Empowerment and then to Freedom as the end-value. Freedom is mentioned by the young farmers in the context of being able to “control my own time” and “make my own decisions”. This ladder can thereby be seen as the main reason why young farmers decide to invest in farm businesses, but it is of course not the sole reason. Young farmers’ behavior may be misrepresented if assuming all young farmers’ decisions are solely based on profit maximization since the young farmers’ decisions are affected by several different value-types. Based on the Personal value theory, Hedonism is the most common valuetype among the studied young farmers. We can thereby conclude that the young farmers’ underlying values, when deciding to invest in a farm business, derives from the need of pleasure related to the satisfaction of enjoying life and achieve certain goals. The results from this study can be used to improve existing decision-making models and contribute to a deeper understanding of young farmers’ cognitive structures and behavior. Further, the results can also be useful to policymakers as a basis when developing new policies concerning young farmers. Thereby, this study can contribute to reducing the barriers connected to farm business investments among young farmers. Finally, the results can be used to communicate a brighter picture of the Swedish agricultural sector. The interviewed young farmers have a strong belief in the future. By marketing the results of this study, young entrepreneurial individuals may be attracted to the agriculture sector, resulting in a reduced impact of the Young farmer problem.

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