Factors associated with farmers’ use of fee-for-service advisors in a privatized agricultural extension system

R. Nettle, J. M. Morton, N. McDonald, M. Suryana, D. Birch, K. Nyengo, M. Mbuli, M. Ayre, B. King, J. A. Paschen, N. Reichelt

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The privatization of agricultural advisory and extension services in many countries and the associated pluralism of service providers has renewed interest in farmers’ use of fee-for-service advisors. Understanding farmers’ use of advisory services is important, given the role such services are expected to play in helping farmers address critical environmental and sustainability challenges. This paper aims to identify factors associated with farmers’ use of fee-for service advisors and bring fresh conceptualization to this topic. Drawing on concepts from service ecosystems in agricultural innovation and using the theory of planned behavior to define a plausible directed acyclic graph, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 1003 Australian farmers and their use of fee-for service advisors, analyzing data using generalized ordinal logistic regression models. We defined three categories: farmers who used fee-for-service advisors as their main source of advice (‘main source'), farmers who used them but did not consider them their main source of advice (‘non-main source’), and farmers who did not use them (‘non-user’). The factors most strongly associated with use of fee-for-service advisors (both as 'main source' and 'non-main source') were: the farm being in a growth/expanding business stage; behavioral beliefs that paying for advice provides control and helps identify new opportunities in farming; endorsement of paying for advice from others in the farm business and farmer peers; attitudes relating to the benefit and value for money from advice; and perceived behavioral control related to confidence in accessing advice. These findings can inform strategies to enable use of fee-for-service advisors. For example, they highlight the need to increase the social acceptance of paying for advice and to assist advisors to better articulate the value of their services in terms that farmers view as important. Currently, mechanisms for professionalizing and certifying advisory services are a focus for policy makers in enabling farmers’ use of advisors. Our findings indicate that these mechanisms on their own would not necessarily lead to greater use of fee-for-service advice, because use is also based on several social and attitudinal factors in addition to perception of quality. Greater emphasis on the social and attitudinal factors found in this study is required when developing strategies to enable the use of fee-for-service advisors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105360
Number of pages17
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Advisory ecosystems
  • Farmers’ decision making
  • Theory of planned behavior

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