Farmers are the actors responsible for the implementation of environmentally sound agricultural practices, and their actions are determined by farmers’ attitudes. The survey gathered information about farmers’ opinions on the appropriateness of the current water protection measures and their pro-active uptake of the measures.
The results of this questionnaire showed that the majority of farmers in the pilot areas around the Baltic Sea were aware of the problems with water quality in the surface waters and admitted that water pollution might be a consequence of misbehaviour and were aware of the importance of different abatement measures. Though many know the negative effects of leaking storages, inappropriate timing and method of fertilizer application, they still found that raising environmental awareness could be very helpful in protecting the waters. The survey reflected that farmers consider their knowledge of environmental requirements to be general and often consider the bureaucracy to apply agri-environmental measures quite difficult, which may inhibit the proactive uptake of different pollution abatement measures.
Overall, the brief gives recommendations for improving communication between farmers and authorities and thus increasing the effectiveness of water protection management. It was seen that public consultation and participatory processes need to be included in consultations, and be more broadly embraced, as a concept, in public policy-making. Offering positive solutions works better than a negative approach when dealing with target groups and that flexibility in the system is needed.