2013 Annual Report
Four focus groups were held in Mandan and Minot North Dakota, Wellington, Kansas and Enid, Oklahoma, all areas with histories of some canola production. The respondents were identified by the local extension educators/agents using quota sampling techniques. All had substantial wheat production and of those some had grown or were growing canola. The purpose of the focus groups was to assess the facilitators and barriers to growing canola or other brassicas for aviation fuel in each context: northern North Dakota, central North Dakota, southern Kansas, and northern Oklahoma. Some of the producers included their farm hands who they were grooming for succession.
Each farmer located their farm on a state map. They also prepared a timeline of their cropping/livestock systems over time, including the equipment changes associated with the changing systems. Changes over time included moving away from “black fallow” and from cattle and other livestock, increased crop rotations, movement to no-till and a few attempts at cover crops. After a presentation about the project and its purpose, a guided conversation around questions sent out prior to the meeting was conducted. Interviews were digitally recorded and then transcribed. After the initial analysis of each transcription, key themes were identified and interviews were coded using N-Vivo software. The themes were then classified by the major capital it represented, although many themes clearly overlapped. Capital types included natural capital, cultural capital, human capital, political capital, financial capital, and built capital.
Definite differences among the groups were identified, but there were also many commonalities. There was definite movement of corn into all regions, although it was most notable in western North Dakota, where changing climate made it easier to grow than previously. However, in all regions, high corn prices supported by crop insurance for both price and crop loss encouraged that shift. Similarities and differences among the sites and the implications for creating sustainable value chains that have positive local as well as national impacts are being explored in more detail.