New article: Development of organic farming in Norway: A statistical analysis of neighbourhood effects

The organic boom in agriculture at the turn of the new millennium culminated in ambitious political goals for further growth in organic agricultural production and consumption. In Norway, the present goal is to reach a level of 15% organic production and consumption by 2020. So far, the requested shift toward organic farming has not occurred at the anticipated level. 


Organic farming began in Norway with a few pioneers who questioned the conditions in conventional agriculture. Since the late 1980s, there has been a rise in the number of organic farms from the core 20 or so original farms to approximately 2800 certified organic farms in 2010. While several studies have explored the diffusion of organic farming as an innovation, little research has been carried out to specifically understand the spatial diffusion of organic agriculture. This paper explores spatial diffusion of organic farming in Norway by asking if the level of organic farming in one municipality is influenced by organic farming in its neighbouring municipalities. Spatial analyses are carried out on population, agricultural production and producer data. The dependent variable is the proportion of organic production in Norwegian municipalities (= 430). Analyses in the paper show a connection between the level of organic production, the population level in the municipalities, and access to consumers. This research also shows a connection between the farm processing of organic products and the level of organic farming. The patterns are of a geographical nature, showing neighbourhood effects in the development of organic farming that are especially strong in particular regions of Norway. The results are discussed in light of previous research on organic farming and Hägerstrands ([1953] 1967) theory of spatial diffusion of innovations.

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