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Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 925;

Farmer Cooperation as a Means for Creating Local Food Systems—Potentials and Challenges

Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC), Alpen-Adria Universitaet (AAU), Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Manuel González de Molina, Gloria Guzman and Marc A. Rosen
Received: 22 December 2016 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 20 May 2017 / Published: 1 June 2017
PDF [452 KB, uploaded 23 June 2017]


Facing the continuous loss of family-run farms across Europe, farmers are seeking new pathways to sustainability. One such pathway is involvement in local food supply systems. Often, this requires new forms of cooperation among farmers and with consumers. Little is known, however, about how this cooperation works in practice and how it might be better fostered. This paper aims to illustrate various forms of cooperation in relation to small-scale farming and the establishment of local food supply. It sheds light on challenges farmers are facing and on the potential measures they can adopt to tackle these challenges. By means of an Austrian case study, researchers applied a participatory method (Social Multi-Criteria Evaluation) and conducted workshops with farmers. Research shows that local production, processing and distribution infrastructure becomes more affordable when farmers collaborate with each other and with consumers and institutions. Furthermore, sharing and collectively developing know-how helps to optimise local farming and food supply systems. However, farmers often lack the knowledge and time to establish new collaborations and to re-organise labour, logistics and communication processes. They would benefit from the availability of cooperative schemes that help facilitate such processes and innovations. View Full-Text
Keywords: farmer cooperation; local food supply; small-scale farming; sustainable food system farmer cooperation; local food supply; small-scale farming; sustainable food system

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Lutz, J.; Smetschka, B.; Grima, N. Farmer Cooperation as a Means for Creating Local Food Systems—Potentials and Challenges. Sustainability 2017, 9, 925.

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