Assessing the Implications of the 2016 Oregon Minimum Wage Increase for Direct Market Farmers and Their Employees Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/6969z526p

2017

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  • Oregon is one of several states to implement a new and innovative minimum wage policy. The Oregon policy defines three regions with each having a separate initial minimum wage and a different set of incremental increases over the next seven years. This paper explores how this policy change may impact the direct market (DM) agricultural sector through two questions: What impact, if any, will the Oregon minimum wage increase have on DM farmers and their employees? What are the environmental, economic, and social implications of this policy change for the DM sector? The Willamette Valley region of Oregon is well suited for this study as it has a vibrant food system with many small-to-mid sized, diversified farms that sell through direct and intermediated marketing channels. These DM farmers often take extra steps to protect the environment, but are heavily reliant on low-wage labor to keep the prices they charge competitive with larger scale conventional growers. Eighteen qualitative, semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with DM farmers in the Willamette Valley to explore the adjustments producers might use to adapt to the minimum wage increase. Labor saving adjustments are documented which imply some reduction in labor use by these DM farms in response to the minimum wage increase. The Ingram and Schneider theory of social construction and policy design is then used to develop policy recommendations. Based on my interviews with DM growers, I recommend that the Oregon minimum wage increase remain as it is, with the caveat that the policy may need to be revisited in the coming years as the increase continues to take effect. I also discuss the implications of three alternate policy recommendations to consider moving forward.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Steven Van Tuyl(steve.vantuyl@oregonstate.edu) on 2017-09-06T20:04:07Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 Trant_MPPEssay_MW2016_POSTDEFENSE.pdf: 1027263 bytes, checksum: a0cf0281e7d6789e280156c6817bf046 (MD5)
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