Measuring Small-scale Farm Success: A Florida Study


The persistence of Florida’s small-scale organic farms in the face of growing demand for organic products

Investigator: Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Project location: Florida

The market expansion for organically grown crops, while mostly a positive trend for farmers, can threaten market opportunities for small-scale farmers as more organic agriculture products are sold through mainstream outlets and global distribution networks.

Questions arise as we look at the persistence of small organic farms in the midst of organic market growth: What are the most important market conditions that enable small-scale organic farms to persist? And what are the characteristics that explain the success or lack of success of small organic farms?

This study addressed these questions among Florida organic producers in the context of the state’s unique organic production conditions using a multi-method approach. This included semi-structured interviews of 32 of the state's 75 certified organic farmers, collection and analysis of organic market data from USDA's Economic Research Service and the Organic Trade Association, and market chain analysis among 50 organic Florida market "players" that included packers, processors, distributors and retailers.