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The motives, benefits, and problems of conversion to organic production


  • John Cranfield


  • Spencer Henson
  • James Holliday


Using data from a survey of certified organic or in-transition to organic vegetable and dairy producers in Canada, we seek to understand a farmer’s decision to convert to organic production by exploring the motives, problems and challenges, and benefits of transition to organic. Results suggest that health and safety concerns and environmental issues are the predominant motives for conversion, while economic motives are of lesser importance. In contrast to the extant literature, results suggest that the motives underlying transition have not changed overtime in Canada. Problems experienced during transition relate to lack of governmental and institutional support, negative pressure from other farmers and farm groups, and lack of physical and financial capital. Reduced exposure to chemicals and improved food quality were highly ranked benefits, while economic related benefits were scored among the lowest of the listed benefits. To prosper, the Canadian organic sector must overcome fundamental marketing problems and challenges. Promulgation of the Canada Organic standard may help address some marketing issues by providing more information to consumers. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • John Cranfield & Spencer Henson & James Holliday, 2010. "The motives, benefits, and problems of conversion to organic production," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(3), pages 291-306, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:3:p:291-306
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9222-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pauline J. Molder & Patti D. Negrave & Richard A. Schoney, 1991. "Descriptive Analysis of Saskatchewan Organic Producers," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 39(4), pages 891-899, December.
    2. Jans, Sharon & Fernandez-Cornejo, Jorge, 2001. "The Economics Of Organic Farming In The U.S.: The Case Of Tomato Production," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20618, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    3. John Henning & Laurie Baker & Paul Thomassin, 1991. "Economics Issues in Organic Agriculture," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 39(4), pages 877-889, December.
    4. Rigby, Dan & Young, Trevor & Burton, Michael, 2001. "The development of and prospects for organic farming in the UK," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 599-613, December.
    5. Greene, Catherine R., 2001. "U.S. Organic Farming Emerges in the 1990s: Adoption of Certified Systems," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33777, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    3. Laure Latruffe & Douadia Bougherara & Jasmin Sainte-Beuve, 2012. "Economic performance in organic farming in France: incentive or disincentive to convert?," Post-Print hal-01190622, HAL.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:11:p:2024-:d:117595 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ann Ferrell, 2012. "Doing masculinity: gendered challenges to replacing burley tobacco in central Kentucky," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(2), pages 137-149, June.
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    7. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:18:p:4862-:d:264591 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Organic food production; Conversion; Canada;


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