Associate Professor of Rural Sociology
The Penn State University
Projections about development of an agricultural bioeconomy often assume farmers will readily become feedstock producers. This presentation considers farmers’ motivations and interests regarding the emerging bioeconomy in the context of current patterns of farm restructuring and rural change. It draws on recent sociological field research conducted with Iowa farmers participating in a demonstration project harvesting switchgrass for energy end uses. These farmers expressed clear optimism about potential environmental gains in producing perennial feedstocks for biofuels. They articulated skepticism about the likelihood of widespread or durable social and economic gains for their community or region through participation in the agricultural bioeconomy.