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Edited by Gry Agnete Alsos, Sara Carter, Elisabet Ljunggren and Friederike Welter
Chapter 11: The Arkansas Delta Produce Marketing Association: Rural Entrepreneurship in the US Delta Region
Kenneth L. Robinson, Edward Abrokwah, Iris Liang, Scott Sanders, Michael Wang and Kytson McNeil In 2003, a small group of traditional row-crop farmers came together to form the Arkansas Delta Produce Marketing Association, LLC. The founding members are cotton farmers who feel that the future of Arkansas farming lies in sweet potatoes and greens. The farmers opted to form the LLC as a means to expand into processing and other value-added operations, and to directly address the negative reputation associated with cooperatives in the region. Scholars in rural economic development have begun to weigh-in on the merits of entrepreneurship as a development strategy for rural communities. Using the case study approach, this chapter examines the Arkansas Delta Produce Marketing Association, LLC, as an innovative organizational form for newly emerging, small-scale farm enterprises. Specifically, this chapter examines how the association is organized and how its members, as rural entrepreneurs, seek to differentiate their association from earlier organizational failures. Similarly, and perhaps more importantly, a focus will be on barriers to entrepreneurship and issues that are encountered by small-scale farmers as they attempt to transform agricultural production in the Delta, and to contribute to local economic development efforts. INTRODUCTION Harvey Williams is anticipating a shift in current national agricultural policies and he is determined to be a step ahead of the rest. In the past, his 100-acre farm in Phillips County, Arkansas, produced large row crops, such as cotton, soybeans and rice. These crops were a staple of Southern agriculture. Due to...
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