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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCING SUSTAINABILITY OF FOOD PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE NORTHEAST

Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Application of principles of integrated agricultural systems: results from farmer panels

Authors
item Halloran, John
item Sassenrath, Gretchen
item Hendrickson, John
item Hanson, Jonathan
item Archer, David
item Vadas, Peter

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 6, 2011
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Citation: Halloran, J.M., Sassenrath, G.F., Hendrickson, J.R., Hanson, J.D., Archer, D.W., Vadas, P.A. 2011. Application of principles of integrated agricultural systems: results from farmer panels. Journal of Agricultural Science. B1:638-644.

Interpretive Summary: Understanding what makes agricultural enterprises successful can help producers develop additional successful enterprises. We interviewed agricultural producers from the Southeast and Northeast regions of the U.S. to identify the fundamental principles that underlie successful integrated agricultural systems. We determined that various drivers influence producers’ decisions. For example, the internal social driver that values farming lifestyle is the principle factor that leads people to choose farming irrespective of location. The type of farming, however, is partly a lifestyle choice (e.g., organic versus conventional), and partly influenced by other external factors, such as economic and environmental issues. Economic drivers and marketing options are also primary drivers influencing production systems and management choices, as farmers focus on providing an economic foundation for their families. This information can be used by producers, scientists and policy makers to direct agricultural production and its associated research.

Technical Abstract: An Integrated Agricultural Systems working group comprised of USDA-ARS scientists is examining different agricultural systems from various geographic regions of the United States to determine fundamental principles that underlie successful integrated agricultural systems. Our hypothesis is that principles are applicable across regions, but key drivers (economic, social, technological, political, and environmental) interact to influence producer decisions and create distinct production systems. We interviewed a range of agricultural producers to examine the underlying rationale for producer decisions by discerning the primary factors influencing particular production and marketing practices. Results demonstrated that while drivers are common among regions, interactions between drivers and influences on decision-makers vary substantially to create unique production systems. For example, the internal social driver that values farming lifestyle is the principal factor that leads people to choose farming irrespective of location. The type of farming, however, is partly a lifestyle choice (e.g., organic versus conventional), that is also influenced by other external factors, such as economic and environmental issues. Economic drivers and marketing options are also primary drivers influencing production systems and management choices, as farmers focus on providing an economic foundation for their families. While all producers employed strategies to manage production and marketing risks, these strategies varied with different marketing channels. Identification of key drivers and the associated principles can be used by producers, scientists and policy makers to direct agricultural production and agricultural research. New management systems can also be developed that are flexible enough to respond to changing societal demands, and are environmentally and economically sustainable.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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