Justice Issues Facing Family-Scale Farmers and Their Laborers in the Northeastern United States


  • Becca Berkey Northeastern University
  • Tania Schusler Loyola University Chicago




Organic Farming, Northeastern United States, Farm Labor, Small-Scale Agriculture, Family-Scale Agriculture, Family Farms, Farmworkers


This study investigates how justice-related issues affect farmers and workers on organic farms in the northeastern United States. At the study's core is an examination of the current context of laborers in organic agriculture in the U.S. Northeast. The study analyzes the results of an online survey of Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) farmer members to gather information about who labors on organic farms in the NOFA network and what unique justice issues they face. The survey results indicate that most of the farms within the network are small-scale and rely heavily on family members and volunteers for labor. Many of the justice issues related to labor arise from the difficulties these farmers experience achieving financial viability. This study increases understanding of the broader systemic context within which small-scale organic farmers make their commitments and decisions, and it illustrates how the justice-related experiences of both farmers and workers are affected by participation as small-scale organic farms in the larger agricultural system.

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Author Biographies

Becca Berkey, Northeastern University

Director of Service-Learning; Research Associate, Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative; Faculty Affiliate, Northeastern Consortium on Food Systems Sustainability, Health and Equity; Northeastern University; 360 Huntington Avenue, 232YMC; Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA; +1-617-373-5840.

Tania Schusler, Loyola University Chicago

Lecturer and Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) Coordinator; Institute of Environmental Sustainability; Loyola University Chicago.



How to Cite

Berkey, B., & Schusler, T. (2016). Justice Issues Facing Family-Scale Farmers and Their Laborers in the Northeastern United States. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(2), 243–267. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2016.062.017



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