Although there is persistent public attention on sustainability and there are growing markets for sustainable food, broad distribution of agricultural sustainability standards in Germany is missing. There are first sector specific studies regarding the motivation to use this management innovation. Specific research on benefits for farmers and on organizational issues concerning standard design is scarce. The Delphi method was used to identify the major reasons for standard adoption or rejection and to get insights to potential standard users’ perception of sustainability. In the second Delphi round with 16 participants the importance and optimal configuration of 13 standard design elements, such as compliance assessment, technical support, used data basis for sustainability assessment or consulting intensity, was analysed. Linking the gained insights to Rogers’ Model of Five Stages in the Innovation-Decision Process (Rogers, 2003) missing demonstration of the relative advantage, major deficiencies in standards’ compatibility, together with high complexity as well as lacking trialability and observability are identified as main factors impeding further dissemination of sustainability standards as an innovation in farm management.


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