Finance challenges and possible alternatives for direct market farmers: A Portland, Oregon Case Study
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- Master's theses (IPM) 
An ‘alternative economic space’ consisting of direct agricultural markets and small farmers is currently emerging within the US. For many, the increasing consumer interest in and success of direct agricultural markets and the rise of small farmers represents a promising shift towards a potentially more sustainable US agri-food system. While small farmers have been successful in capitalizing on the increasing demand for locally produced food via direct agricultural markets, they are still faced with numerous challenges that threaten their ability to remain competitive in the US agricultural economy. This thesis focuses on one of these numerous challenges; accessing finance. Drawing on findings from a case study, the thesis provides an overview of the present finance situation and key issues experienced by farmers participating in direct markets in Portland, Oregon. The key issues reveal how both voluntary and involuntary exclusion, influenced by the pecuniary requirements of formal finance institutions as well as farmers biases of these institutions, limit farmers ability to access desirable finance products and services. Moving beyond a description of the present situation and key issues, the thesis discusses the potential of community-based finance solutions and social finance organizations as possible alternatives for addressing farmers’ finance challenges, as well as their interest in socially embedded finance relationships.