Framing of compliance: An analysis of stakeholder communication about compliance with the Manure Act
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Achievement of the Dutch water quality goals for the Water Framework Directive is threatened. One of the causes of this threat is the presence of nitrogen and phosphate in the water bodies. Amongst other sources, leaching from agricultural parcels is the primary contributor for nitrogen and phosphate in water bodies. Concerns on the impact of this leaching have lead the Dutch government to introduce an array of legislation governing the production, transport and application of manure on arable land. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that the quality of ground and surface waters allows the water to be used for a variety of purposes. It is suspected that a number of farmers apply manure in excess of the usage norms. The government has been advised to consider how enforcement could be improved. Because the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is not responsible for the enforcement of the Manure Act, it is dependent on the actions of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The aim of this study is to determine which are the main factors that induce com-pliance with the Manure Act. This may make it possible to determine a course of action for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to contribute to com-pliance. To understand the reasons behind fraudulent behavior, this study was carried out to develop a conceptual model of different factors which influence compliance. To determine which of the identified factors in this model are most relevant a qualitative content analysis was carried out on a number of articles which have appeared in the trade media, as well as a number of other sources. This was done under the assumption that the trade journals address the issues that play a representative role for its target audience. By comparing these results it became possible to identify the theoretical factors that the different stakeholders typically address and to observe differences between the targeted audiences. It appears that there is a difference between the factors that are mainly addressed by the agricultural sector and those that the government addresses. The agricultural sector focuses on the business environment in which the farmer operates, and on the individual values of the farmer. Examples of these factors are the presence of swindlers within the business environment, or the wish to ensure that the family company is passed onto the next generation. These are factors which are less frequently addressed by the government which tends to focus its attention on the sanctioning role it fulfills and the importance of knowledge and science to achieve the goals behind its policies. The difference in the factors that the stakeholders address in their communication could be a reason for, or the result of the perceived widening gap between the farmer, the government and civil society.