Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Agricultural and Resource Economics

Committee Chair

Cheryl L. Brown

Committee Co-Chair

Gerard D'Souza

Committee Member

Thomas McConnell


Increasing demand in local food markets in WV offers a new or enhanced income generation opportunity to small producers. An ostensible gap in supply to meet this demand sparks an investigation of the factors that influence producers' decisions, as reflected by their behavior and intentions, to participate and expand in local food markets. The factors that influence both the behavior of current commercial producers and potential new entrants are identified through analysis of data collected through a survey of producers identified by field professionals. Specifically, the influence of motivational and place-based sociocultural characteristics, based on guidance from social psychology Theory of Planned Behavior, is examined within an economic framework of market participation and supply. Interest among non-commercial producers is identified and poses to be a plausible source of enhanced supply in local food markets in addition to expansion among current producers. Models of market participation behavior and supply response, using a probit model and OLS regression, indicated significant influence of motivational factors such as reasons for entering farming, influence of social context, and attitudes towards diversification of income to reduce risk. Probit model results indicate that past concerns such as time limitation and perceptions of lack of profitability limit intentions to participate in the market among current non-commercial producers, whereas past concerns about food safety and distance to market do not appear to limit those intentions. Probit model results of expansion intentions indicate the predominant influence of access to resources and farm-level factors as opposed to motivational factors on expansion. The importance of farm succession to sales volume and expansion intentions is salient. Interventions that will be successful at facilitating new entrants to market and expansion among current commercial producers must be tailored to producer values and sociocultural norms in addition to addressing resource barriers and skills. Specifically, facilitation of farm succession, implementation of marketing models that overcome distance to market and producer time and risk constraints, and education and technical assistance that is sensitive to sociocultural norms and values in general are potential leverage points. The analysis of market participation in addition to supply volume is determined to be an important aspect of analysis of supply response in local food markets in WV.