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Local Food, Scale and Conventionalization: Mid-scale Farms and the Governance of “Local Beef” Chains

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dc.contributor.advisor Smithers, John Mount, Philip 2012-09-12T14:52:25Z 2012-09-12T14:52:25Z 2012-09 2012-09-04 2012-09-12
dc.description.abstract Media and consumer attention has propelled local food to prominence, and a significant price premium has signaled its potential as a value-added option for family farms looking to transition from commodity production. Many of these farms –entering an unfamiliar market– have been selling local food in groups, to share risks and investments. This strategy has introduced a scale of production and operations to the marketplace that could challenge some of the basic premises of the local food contract. This research project was premised on the notion that the local food movement –dominated by small-scale production and direct marketing– appears to be governed by a set of principles that would be tested by the introduction of farms and farm groups of increasing scale. To understand the implications –for these farm families, local food marketing groups, and growing local food systems– this research sought to address whether these groups would adopt a more conventional approach to meet their needs, and fit their scale, or change their approach and practices to conform to the requirements and expectations established by the principles of governance that characterize local food systems. ‘Local beef’ chains from across Ontario were selected to capture a range of operational and geographic scale. Interviews with farmers and coordinators investigated the extent to which scale –at farm and group level– affected motivations, as well as group governance decisions. The research found that increased group scale limits the range of options available, and magnifies pressures towards conventionalization. Transition to larger scale favours governance based on surveillance and discipline, and suffers from lack of infrastructure that would facilitate mid-scale aggregation, distribution, and the development of bridging capital. Farmers who had direct input into decisions invested more time and effort, but also identified more strongly with their group. Farmers who marketed through larger-scale intermediary-led groups faced fewer costs, but were treated as commodity input suppliers, and were less engaged in the group’s success. Most farmers did not see these intermediary-led groups as a long-term solution, and looked instead to policy solutions, or other alternative marketing models – including smaller-scale regional intermediaries. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights.uri *
dc.subject Local food en_US
dc.subject scale en_US
dc.subject conventionalization en_US
dc.subject governance en_US
dc.subject food system en_US
dc.subject value chains en_US
dc.subject beef marketing en_US
dc.subject Ontario en_US
dc.subject alternative en_US
dc.subject marketing chain en_US
dc.subject value-added en_US
dc.subject mid-scale en_US
dc.subject family farms en_US
dc.subject direct marketing en_US
dc.subject beef en_US
dc.subject BSE en_US
dc.title Local Food, Scale and Conventionalization: Mid-scale Farms and the Governance of “Local Beef” Chains en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Geography en_US Doctor of Philosophy en_US Department of Geography en_US
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