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Impact of marketing channels on perceptions of quality of life and profitability for Wisconsin's organic vegetable farmers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 May 2014

Erin Silva*
Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Fengxia Dong
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Paul Mitchell
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
John Hendrickson
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
*Corresponding author:


A recent increase in programs supporting the entry of organic farmers into direct market channels, such as farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture has occurred in the USA. In order to better implement these programs and to design better outreach and educational support activities for direct market farmers, understanding farmers’ perceptions of success in these marketing channels is valuable. To this goal, Wisconsin-certified organic vegetable farmers were surveyed in order to investigate the relationships between farm characteristics, marketing strategies, and farmer's perceptions of their profitability and quality of life. The data collected from this survey indicate that farmers selling into farmers' markets and through community-supported agriculture tend to be more likely to be dissatisfied with their profitability. Conversely, however, the survey data indicated that farmers selling into other markets, particularly wholesale markets and restaurants/institutions, are significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with their quality of life. Thus, it appears that farmers are making trade-offs with respect to entering markets that allow for greater financial rewards but may lead to a lower quality of life. These results point to the potential benefit of outreach efforts to assist farmers to increase their profitability in market channels that also provide a higher quality of life.

Research Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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