Barriers to Sales in Local Food Markets

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Using data from a telephone survey of producers in rural Northern California, we use penalized maximum likelihood estimation of binary logistic regression models to estimate how farm characteristics, including size, tenure, and marketing channel (e.g., local) are related to producers’ experience of barriers to sales. We find evidence showing a higher likelihood of reported barriers for farms selling in local channels and operating fewer than ten years but little evidence that small farms are more likely to report barriers after controlling for other factors. Given increasing evidence linking financial viability in local markets with larger scale, our results suggest programs seeking to support farms through market development may be more successful targeting participants based on market channel and tenure rather than size. Our findings hold across a wide range of barriers covering activities from marketing to shipping and contracting, indicating that values-based supply chain businesses such as food hubs likely have a broad role to play in facilitating local sales.