Barriers and Bridges to Success: A Mixed Methods Needs Assessment of Texas Small Producers
Small producers are celebrated as the face of U.S. agriculture, yet struggle with profitability, capitalization, lack of institutional support, and a host of other issues affecting their perceived and actual success. In this thesis, I use mixed methods to investigate the barriers and bridges to success for Texas small producers. I summarize findings from previous literature on small farm success factors and producer needs assessments, using thematic analysis to identify seven challenge categories. I developed a needs assessment questionnaire and surveyed 48 Texas small producers to identify their predominant challenges and evaluate predictors of their success and challenges. Finally, I conducted semi-structured interviews with eleven Texas small producers and discovered seven themes related to small farm success, challenges, and visions for the future. Results suggest that Texas small producers struggle primarily with access to land, labor, and capital and their exclusion from the traditional agricultural system. Texas small producers perceived success in terms of quality of life, fulfillment, relationships, and personal resilience, and expressed the need for greater institutional and consumer buy-in. I conclude with a list of recommendations aimed at agencies, organizations, and individuals who have the power to help Texas small producers succeed. Overall, supporting small and historically underserved producers could improve on-farm environmental sustainability, create thriving local food systems, and deliver opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
small producers, small farms, mixed methods, success factors, evaluation research
Tritsch, K. (2021). Barriers and bridges to success: A mixed methods needs assessment of Texas small producers (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.