Does organic farming present greater opportunities for employment and community development than conventional farming? A survey-based investigation in California and Washington

Lynn Finley, M. Jahi Chappell, Paul Thiers, James Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Organic farming may present opportunities for job creation over and above those provided by conventional agriculture; this study is one of a small number to have empirically examined this proposition. We compared countywide averages of hired farm labor from the USDA’s 2007 Agricultural Census with data collected through a mirrored survey of organic farmers in the same counties in Washington and California. Based on mixed-effects linear models to estimate differences (if any) in employment between organic farms and countywide farm averages, our analysis indicated that organic farms employed more workers per acre (95% CI: 2–12% more). Further, a greater proportion (95% CI: 13–43% more) of hired labor on organic farms worked 150 days or more compared to the average farm, suggesting increased labor requirements—and potentially more secure employment—on organic farms. We conclude the present study by considering possible policy implications of our findings with regards to organic agriculture as part of regional economic development strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-572
Number of pages21
JournalAgroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
Volume42
Issue number5
Early online date25 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Organic farming
  • conventional farming
  • employment
  • labor
  • regional economic development

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