Graduation Term

3-26-2024

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Aslihan D Spaulding

Abstract

To meet the increasing food demand of a growing population, adopting sustainable practices should be considered a need rather than a preference. Despite the economic benefits of agricultural production, some activities performed have been identified to have detrimental effects, especially on the environment. Most of the environmental impact of agriculture usually stems from the management practices and input materials used. One way of ensuring sustainable agriculture has been identified to be agricultural diversification. Available evidence indicates that horticultural crops such as fruits and vegetables play an important role in agricultural diversification. For the fruit and vegetable industry to achieve its potential for agricultural sustainability, there is a need for policy and institutional reforms. These policies can only be effective when there is a better understanding of the status of sustainability and diversification in the fruit and vegetable sub-sector. Collecting data from the US members of the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), this study examines their current practices and perception of agricultural sustainability and diversification. The results show that fertilizer management, application of integrated pest management methods, and controlling water usage were the leading sustainable practices performed. The study also found that respondents believe there is a need for agricultural diversification, and they are willing to diversify and adopt more sustainability practices because they believe these practices can help improve the environment. However, they are unsure of the consumer’s willingness to pay a premium for their sustainably grown products from diversified farms. Furthermore, the hypotheses testing results indicate that there are significant associations between the size of the operation and the acquisition of certified labels; the level of priority placed on sustainability and the perception of diversification; the level of priority placed on sustainability and the number of sustainable practices performed; the existence of marketing contracts and receipt of premiums on certified labels.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.30707/ETD2024.20240618063947220247.1000000

Page Count

86

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