Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems

Research Article

Risk and risk management in organic agriculture: Views of organic farmers

James Hansona1 c1, Robert Dismukesa2, William Chambersa2, Catherine Greenea3 and Amy Kremena4

a1 Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.

a2 Markets and Trade Economics Division, Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USA.

a3 Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USA.

a4 Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

In a series of focus groups during 2001 and 2002, organic farmers from different regions of the United States identified a wide range of risks to their operations. The focus groups were facilitated by the University of Maryland in cooperation with a research team from USDA's Economic Research Service, to explore the risks faced by organic farmers, how they are managed, and needs for risk management assistance. Contamination of organic production from genetically modified organisms was seen as a major risk, particularly by grain, soybean and cotton farmers. Focus-group participants producing grains and cotton—many of whom knew about and had obtained crop insurance—raised concerns about coverage offered, including the need for insurance to reflect the higher prices received for organic crops. Most fruit and vegetable producers participating in the focus groups had little knowledge of crop insurance. When provided with basic information about crop insurance, operators of small fruit and vegetable farms were skeptical about its usefulness for their type of operation.

(Accepted June 16 2004)

Key words

  • focus groups;
  • organic farming;
  • crop insurance;
  • organic certification;
  • genetically modified organisms

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: jhanson1@umd.edu

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