Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Sidney Relyea




environmental health, food security, farms, agriculture, sustainability


An increasing awareness of human and environmental health issues and the destruction of family farms and rural communities have caused a significant change in the way many farmers, consumers, and policy‐makers are thinking about and relating to food, the results of which can be seen largely in the growth of the organic and sustainable food industry. This paper attempts to examine and explain farmers’ attitudes towards sustainable agriculture, and their motivations to use sustainable methods of production. A survey was distributed to 533 farms that are members of the Northeast Organic Food Association of New York (NOFA‐NY). The data obtained from the survey are used to test the degree to which farmer’s demographics and values influence their choice to use sustainable agricultural methods. As expected, there was evidence of a strong positive correlation between farmer’s opinions about sustainable agriculture and the extent to which they practiced sustainable agriculture. Factors that were in general most important to the respondents were the health of their families, the environment, and the health of their community and customers. However, it was found that those farmers who are most sustainable are those who placed the most importance on the impact of their farm on the environment, the social impact of their farm on the community, and religious or spiritual factors. It was also found that the size of the farm and the income of the farm were both associated with lower levels of sustainability. Further analysis discussed other reasons the respondents may have chosen to practice sustainable agriculture, such as animal welfare and a growing organic market.