The global agri-food system is governed by a variety of standards and certifications that are highly variable in their content, structure, and enforcement. Given this variability, it is crucial to understand how producers choose amongst available standards and certifications. The theory of negotiated decision-making emphasizes the interaction of structural and individual level motivations and constraints on producer decision-making. Producers negotiate multiple, often conflicting, structural motivations and constraints determined by commodity chain location and social network ties along with individual motivations and constraints determined by ideology. Drawing on ethnographic interviews with organic dairy farmers and processors in New Zealand, the theory of negotiated decision-making rejects the binary between financial and ideological motivations for certification and incorporates social network ties and commodity chain position to provide a framework for understanding producer decisions in the context of regulatory variation.