Date of Award

Fall 2017

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

John M. Halstead

Second Advisor

Robert A. Robertson

Third Advisor

Nada A. Haddad


Over the past decade, Northern New Englanders have focused on expanding local agricultural production despite a lack of economic research on regional market dynamics. This thesis follows a two-tiered approach to investigate the consumers and producers of local agriculture in northern New England. The first tier identifies the current constraints and expansion barriers faced by regional local growers using focus group methods. The second tier investigates regional consumers’ purchasing habits, values, and willingness to pay for locally grown fresh produce using a consumer survey and discrete choice analysis techniques.

The qualitative results from producer focus groups (n = 48) suggest that local growers from Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire would face financial restrictions if they were to expand their farming operations. Additionally, challenges with laborers and consumers hinder current local production efforts in the region. The regional consumer survey results (n = 647) suggest that consumers from Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire care most about maintaining local farmlands, supporting the local economy, and buying produce that is cultivated without pesticides when choosing to purchase fresh produce. Locally grown produce is seen as superior in its ability to support the local economy, in its freshness, and in its quality; however, local prices are still a top deterrent for those who choose not to purchase locally grown produce. The consumer discrete choice analysis results suggest a weak regional demand for a wide range of local produce options. For example, only local tomatoes and green beans command a price premium from all three states, with percent price premiums ranging from 35-81% and 28-46% for each produce item, respectively. The constraints in supplying local produce are possibly compounded by the consumers’ relatively weak willingness to pay for a variety of local produce options. The combination of both producer and consumer results allow for a better understanding the economic challenges that face local agriculture expansion in the northeast region.