Publication Date

5-2009

Degree Name

MS in Management

First Advisor

Aqeel Tirmizi

Abstract

Organic agricultural methods are rooted in an ecological approach to food production that aims for harmony of the system and health of consumers. Family farms have been marginalized in the U.S. food system dominated by industrialized agriculture, controlled by agribusiness, and largely supported by government policy. The focus on a Vermont dairy family farm shows the transition to organic in the context of a declining conventional dairy industry and a local culture supportive of natural production methods. The attitudes of the members of a Vermont dairy farm transitioning from conventional to organic practices are presented in this case study. This specific case, exploring the aspects of human behavior change associated with a farm in transition to organic, has implications for organizations “going green” in other sectors. The intended audience of the study is farmers, policy makers, academics, and organizations transitioning to more ecological operation.

The three partners in the business speak from highly varied backgrounds and opinions regarding the transition. The farmers’ intrinsic motivations for the transition included philosophical agreement with the use of natural methods and an attraction to the lifestyle of a small farm that they associated with going organic. The external motivating factors include a favorable market for the organic produce and attraction to stable milk prices. Other external factors that influenced their decision to go organic included appreciation for the improved social and environmental impacts of the operation. Recommendations focus on marketing strategies including rebranding to coincide with the transition to organic practices. Conclusions explore the parallels between the business model for a transition to organic practices and organizations in other sectors seeking improved Corporate Social Responsibility.

Disciplines

Agricultural and Resource Economics | Environmental Health and Protection

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