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Agricultural Goals and Farming Challenges

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AGRICULTURE GOALS AND FARMING CHALLENGES

Below is a list of potential goals for sustainable agriculture. To what degree do you think your organic farm operation contributes to each of the following goals?

Potential Goals for Sustainable Agriculture Mean Scores on a Scale from 1 (”No Contribution”) to 5 (“Significant Contribution”)
Promote soil conservation 4.10
Establish relationships of trust with consumers 4.09
Reduce toxins released into environment 4.08
Protect human health 4.02
Protect water resources 3.87
Protect biodiversity 3.85
Provide safe working conditions for farm workers 3.85
Provide wildlife habitat 3.83
Increase the sustainability of agriculture 3.82
Make efficient use of nonrenewable resources 3.63
Improve the quality of rural life 3.62
Preserve traditional knowledge 3.53
Support local businesses 3.52
Provide adequate farm income 3.51
Enhance rural economic development 3.43
Create direct producer-consumer linkages 3.41
Reduce dependence on large corporations 3.32
Teach children about farming 3.29
Reduce dependence on external inputs 3.24
Provide a living wage to farm workers 3.06
Teach community members about farming 2.99
Promote social justice / equity 2.54
Nonresponses ranged from 10 to 21

During the past year, to what extent have these factors been problems for you in making your organic farm operation successful?

Potential Problems in Making Organic Farm Operation Successful Not at All
(%)
Minimal
(%)
Moderate
(%)
Considerable
(%)
High cost of organic inputs 14.0 17.3 39.5 29.2
High labor costs 26.3 17.4 29.5 26.8
Inability to find enough farm labor 39.6 20.8 18.5 21.1
Variable or low yields 26.3 31.9 28.3 13.6
Lack of access to processing facilities 61.2 13.7 15.2 9.9
Geographic isolation 56.4 22.8 12.9 7.9
Difficulty in obtaining bank loans 72.9 13.9 6.5 6.8
Limited marketing opportunities 55.8 20.5 17.3 6.4
Difficulty in obtaining organic inputs 40.1 28.5 25.9 5.5
Limited access to technical assistance 54.5 26.5 13.7 5.2
Lack of business background 60.6 22.9 11.3 5.2
Sense of social isolation from other farmers 51.2 28.8 16.3 3.8
Sense that you are not taken seriously as a farmer 62.7 24.8 9.0 3.5
Language or cultural barriers 58.9 26.4 11.1 3.5
Lack of farming background 67.5 17.7 11.6 3.2
Lack of internet or e-mail access 82.0 11.9 3.2 2.9
Lack of computer knowledge 66.7 20.8 9.9 2.6
Need for child care 80.4 13.2 4.7 1.8
Sense that you are not welcome in farmer associations 76.8 16.8 4.6 1.7
Lack of family support for your role in managing the farm 74.4 16.6 7.6 1.5
Gender discrimination 91.8 7.0 0.9 0.3
Racial or ethnic discrimination 92.6 7.4 0.0 0.0
Nonresponses ranged from 11 to 17

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