McKee, B. H., Lamm, A. J. & Bunch, J. C. (2017). Encouraging engagement in water conservation: Can trust from Extension create change? Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 83-97. https://dot.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04083
Extension educators seek to provide scientific research and perspective to farmers and the public. The connection that Extension educators foster between farmers and consumers can be capitalized upon to build trust and ultimately encourage behavior change through social capital. Agricultural educators have recognized the need for consumers and farmers to develop trust and mutuality in order to combat complex issues such as water usage. Agriculture is the greatest user of water in the United States; therefore efforts to encourage agricultural water conservation have been explored. Unfortunately, they are largely unsuccessful because of the increased production cost associated with conservation passed on to consumers. This study explored how U.S. consumers’ related their willingness to pay for products conserving water with their level of trust that farmers are good conservationists. The findings revealed that trust that farmers will conserve water is predicted by the degree of positive and negative relationships that consumers identify. The findings imply that by developing relationships between consumers’ trust and their willingness to pay, Extension educators can encourage engagement in agricultural water conservation practices.