Theses and Dissertations


M Scott Cagle

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Swortzel, Kirk A.

Committee Member

Jackson, Gary B.

Committee Member

Oldham, J. Larry

Committee Member

Sexton, Julie S.

Committee Member

White, Ronnie W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural and Extension Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


The goal of the Mississippi State University Extension Service (MSU-ES) is to improve the quality of life for all Mississippians. One specific group that agricultural change agents work with at the county level is beef producers. Grazing lands have received much attention over the last few years regarding environmental concerns and Best Management Practices (BMPs) for beef cattle operations. The adoption of these practices was voluntary during the time this study was conducted, however; adoption was highly encouraged by the MSU-ES and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). By knowing the level of adoption of BMPs that Mississippi beef producers have implemented, change agents can more effectively plan educational programming efforts for producers to better understand the importance of BMP adoption. The purpose of this study was to describe the adopter categories of Mississippi beef producers as determined by Rogers (2003) adopter characteristics generalizations based on their (1) socioeconomic status, (2) personality values and communication behavior, and (3) opinions. It also examined the correlations between the adopter categories to predict the level of the three BMPs being studied. The adopter categories were innovator, early adopter, early majority, late majority, and laggard. The three BMPs that were the focus of the study were rotation grazing, riparian buffers, and pasture renovation. The results of the study indicated that Mississippi beef producers could be correctly identified in the adopter categories. By identifying the adopter categories of the Mississippi beef producers and then examining the correlations among the variables, prediction of BMP adoption of rotational grazing and riparian buffers was possible. The relationships between MSU-ES agents and their programming efforts, as well as the relationships between NRCS district conservationist and their programs, were studied. Nonoption, though not an adopter category, was also examined and the reasons for it were cited.