Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Dane Scott


Agriculture, Conservation, Eco-labeling, Lack of Price Premium Generation, Native predators, Predator Friendly Certification (PFC), Sustainability


University of Montana


Agricultural landscapes play key roles in preserving biodiversity through habitat protection while providing ecosystem services necessary for rural livelihoods. There is a small, but growing movement among agricultural producers to live with nature rather than to dominate nature. Within this larger agriculture movement are efforts to live with predators rather than eliminating them through lethal means. This is reflective of the changing conversation around predators in the New West. Means of co-existence include livestock guardian animals, electric fencing, fladry, range rider patrols, rotational grazing, and lights etc. One grassroots effort in this area is Predator Friendly Certification (PFC). PFC is a 2nd party verified eco-label that embraces and merges the notions of agriculture and conservation through the utilization of such innovative strategies. In theory, eco-labels offer the dual promise of price premiums and simultaneous environmental benefits, certifying a commodity’s process of production and unique quality. PFC offered a distinct opportunity to better understand the promise and future advancement of a particular, grassroots eco-labeling effort. This qualitative research study interviewed 17 PFC producers, 8 potential producers who inquired yet chose not to seek PFC, and 5 members of the PFC founders circle. PFC efforts provided insight into the growing phenomenon of eco-labeling as a strategy employed in the alternative foods movement to address process and quality. Notably, despite the fact that PFC is not generating a price premium, small numbers of dedicated producers utilize these practices because of their philosophical and ethical commitments. According to those interviewed, 3rd party verification is critical for marketplace expansion, institutional accountability, and future price premium generation for values-based eco-labels. This research generated suggestions for PFC to increase participation and marketplace expansion as the eco-label transitions to another eco-label, Certified Wildlife Friendly (CWF). These findings also indicate that interest in ecosystem health is equally as important as animal welfare for producers. Facilitating partnerships with the 3rd party verified eco-label Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) may help expand the values of PFC/CWF to a larger circle of producers and consumers in the marketplace. Lessons learned from PFC’s struggles and evolution are valuable to any grassroots values-based labeling effort.



© Copyright 2012 Melissa Ellen Katherine Early