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Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020370

Implications of the 2016 Oregon Minimum Wage Increase for Direct Market Farmers, Farmworkers, and Communities

1
School of Public Policy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
3
Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 January 2018 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 31 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agribusiness and Food Supply Chain)
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Abstract

We conducted interviews with 18 direct market (DM) farmers to explore the implications of the Oregon minimum wage (MW) increase for the state’s DM agricultural sector. How, if at all, will DM farms in the Willamette Valley (OR, USA) adjust their production and marketing practices in response to the MW increase? How will these adjustments affect DM farm viability, farmworkers, the environment, and the communities in which the farms are embedded? This region has a vibrant food system with many small-to-mid sized, diversified farms that sell through direct and intermediated marketing channels. The diversified production and marketing practices of these DM farmers are labor intensive and, in many respects, environmentally friendly. These practices result in relatively high costs and the farmers’ ability to respond by increasing prices is constrained by mainstream retail prices. Most growers reported that they will adjust to the MW increase by reducing their production and marketing costs with a decrease in total labor hours being an important strategy. This study, while small and exploratory, is the first in Oregon (and perhaps nationally) to collect empirical farm-level data about how DM farms will adjust to a MW increase. It sets the stage for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: minimum wage; direct marketing farms; intermediated marketing channels; production practices; farm size; farmworkers; farmer interviews; civic agriculture minimum wage; direct marketing farms; intermediated marketing channels; production practices; farm size; farmworkers; farmer interviews; civic agriculture
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Trant, L.; Brekken, C.A.; Lev, L.; Gwin, L. Implications of the 2016 Oregon Minimum Wage Increase for Direct Market Farmers, Farmworkers, and Communities. Sustainability 2018, 10, 370.

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