In the last few decades, the emergence of mid-scale, intermediated marketing channels that fall between commodity and direct markets has attracted growing interest from scholars for their potential to preserve small and mid-sized farms while scaling up alternative agrifood sourcing. When such mid-scale supply chains are formed among multiple business partners with shared ethics or values related to the qualities of the food and the business relationships along the supply chain, they may be termed "values-based supply chains (VBSCs)." Most of the research on VBSCs to date has relied primarily on a case study approach that investigates the performance of VBSCs from the perspective of VBSC founders or leaders. In contrast, this research seeks out the perspectives of farmers who participate in VBSCs. A nationwide farmer survey conducted in 2017 offers original insights on farmer motivations for participating in VBSCs and how they are being used by farmers relative to other marketing channels. We find that VBSCs serve farms of all sizes. Overall, smaller farms were more likely to market a higher percentage of overall sales through their VBSC and more likely to rank their VBSC as one of the top three marketing channels in their portfolio. But it was the larger farms that were more likely to perceive VBSC-specific benefits. Our findings confirm that while there is a limited volume of product that such regional supply chains can currently handle, farmers view VBSCs as a valuable marketing option that aligns with their own values and preserves their product's identity.

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Published in Agriculture and Human Values.

© The Author(s) 2021

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Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grant No. 2015-68006-25646.

Related Content

The survey instrument is available from authors upon request.

The Stata code used for analysis is available from authors upon request.

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