Farmer social connectedness and market access

A case study of personal networks among emerging farmers

Keywords: Social Network Analysis, Incubator Farms, Local Food System, Entrepreneurship, Immigrant Farmers, Emerging Farmers, Agricultural Development

Abstract

Market access in the local food system of the American Midwest is largely predicated on key social and economic relationships. This study examines the personal networks of emerging farmers enrolled in an incubator farm training program. Drawing from social network and qualitative analysis the study findings yield insights into the relationship between social networks, market access, and financial sustainability among emerging farmers. Some farmers have highly dense support networks with many strong familial ties. Others have smaller support networks charac­terized by weaker and more sparse ties. Highly individualized farmer characteristics and aspirations are shown to greatly influence the building and maintaining of networks. Advice networks are demonstrated to affect market access, decision-making, and indicators for entrepreneurial success. Smaller advice networks of non–English speaking farmers demonstrate limited market access and access to information. This distinction is high­lighted in the discussion of policy and agricultural development programs targeted toward emerging farmers.

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Author Biographies

Christian Kelly Scott, Michigan State University

Department of Community Sustainability. Scott is now a Ph.D. candidate in Rural Sociology and International Agriculture & Development, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, & Education, Pennsylvania State University.

Robert B. Richardson, Michigan State University

Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Community Sustainability

Published
2021-03-25
How to Cite
Scott, C., & Richardson, R. (2021). Farmer social connectedness and market access: A case study of personal networks among emerging farmers. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(2), 431–453. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.102.024