Lamm, A. J., Taylor, M. R., & Lamm, K. W. (2016). Using perceived differences in views of agricultural water use to inform practice. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(3), 180-191. doi: 10.5032/jae.2016.03180
Water use has become increasingly contentious as the population grows and water resources become scarcer. Recent media coverage of agricultural water use has brought negative attention potentially influencing public and decision makers’ attitudes towards agriculture. Negative perceptions could result in uninformed decisions being made that impact the agricultural industry such as increased regulation and decreased permitting. Without adequate water resources the agricultural industry will be unable to enhance or even sustain current production. This study uses knowledge gap theory to identify and compare public and local decision makers’ attitudes towards and perceptions of agricultural water use to inform educational programs and communication approaches that could assist in educating and informing about agricultural water use. The findings revealed the public had a positive attitude towards agricultural water use, which significantly differs from decision makers, who were neutral. The public is also more interested in learning about water issues, while decision makers appear to be more apathetic. The findings imply there is a need for education and communication in this realm, particularly with decision makers that are working closely with water authorities in driving water policy.