Published in Agriculture and Human Values, Vol. 17 No. 1 (March 2000) at 10.1023/A:1007632810301.

The original publication is available at


Various structural factors influence organic farmer decision-making. Analyses that combine structure and agency provide an opportunity for understanding farmers' perceptions of the political, economic, and social "world" in which they operate. Rich conversational interviews, conducted with twenty certified organic farmers in Illinois and analyzed with multiple qualitative methods, show how farmers mediate structural concerns. In addition to political, economic, and social structures, a fourth structure is needed. Indeed these organic farmers emphasize the importance of ecological factors in their decision-making. Within the perceived economic, political, social, and ecological structures, numerous topics (i.e., marketing, policy, family, ecosystems) and subtopics (i.e., diversification, farm programs, traditions, soils) exist. Farmers' quotations provide detailed information of how they view and mediate structures in their daily on-farm decision-making.