• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Introduction, by Art Hansen
 Alachua county background, by Robin...
 Production and farmers in 1980,...
 Farming systems, by Art Hansen...
 Low resource farmers, by Art Hansen...
 Summary and conclusions, by Art...
 Graphs showing county production...
 Methodology, by Art Hansen and...
 Marketing outlets for Alachua county...
 Production and marketing practices...
 Overview of the potential applicability...
 Bibliography
 Back Cover






Group Title: Farming systems of Alachua County, Florida : an overview with special attention to low resource farmers
Title: Farming systems of Alachua County, Florida
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055275/00001
 Material Information
Title: Farming systems of Alachua County, Florida an overview with special attention to low resource farmers
Physical Description: v, 99, 56 p. : ill., forms ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hansen, Art.
University of Florida -- Center for Community and Rural Development
Publisher: Center for Community and Rural Development, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: [1981]
 Subjects
Subject: Agricultural systems -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Statistics -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
statistics   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 54-56, last group.
Statement of Responsibility: by Art Hansen ... et al.
General Note: "January 1981."
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00055275
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 16170139

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Acknowledgement
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page iii
    List of Tables
        Page iv
        Page v
    Introduction, by Art Hansen
        Page 1
        Purpose
            Page 1
        Alachua county
            Page 2
            Page 3
            Page 4
        Outline of the report
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
    Alachua county background, by Robin Lauriault
        Page 8
        Ecology
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
        Agricultural history since 1990
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
    Production and farmers in 1980, by Art Hansen and David Griffith
        Page 23
        Defining the farming systems
            Page 23
            Page 24
        Farm location, size, and commodities
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
        Production categories
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
        Farm categories
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
    Farming systems, by Art Hansen and David Griffith
        Page 41
        Defining the farming systems
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
        Farming systems and recommendation domains
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
        Livestock-centered systems
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
        Crop-centered systems
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
        Mixed systems
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
    Low resource farmers, by Art Hansen and David Griffith
        Page 57
        The frequency of low resource farmers
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
        The context of beliefs
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
        County low resource farmers: Poverty and isolation
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
        Time commitment
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 69
            Page 70
        Complexity, gardens, priorities, and subsistence
            Page 71
            Page 72
        Motivation
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
        Production categories and management requirements
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
        Utilization of resources
            Page 81
            Page 82
        Management of resources
            Page 83
            Page 84
        Data from other surveys
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
    Summary and conclusions, by Art Hansen
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
    Graphs showing county production of various commodities, by Robin Lauriault
        Page A 1
        Page A 2
        Page A 3
        Page A 4
    Methodology, by Art Hansen and David Griffith
        Page B 1
        Page B 2
        Page B 3
        Page B 4
        Page B 5
        Page B 6
        Page B 7
        Page B 8
        Page B 9
        Page B 10
        Page B 11
        Page B 12
        Page B 13
    Marketing outlets for Alachua county farm commodities, by Sandra Powers and John Butler
        Page C 1
        Page C 2
        Page C 3
        Page C 4
        Page C 5
        Page C 6
        Page C 7
        Page C 8
        Page C 9
        Page C 10
        Page C 11
        Page C 12
    Production and marketing practices for beef cattle in Alachua county: A comparison of farming systems of commercial and low resource farmers, by Sandra Russo and David Griffith
        Page D 1
        Page D 2
        Page D 3
        Page D 4
        Page D 5
        Page D 6
        Page D 7
        Page D 8
        Page D 9
        Page D 10
        Page D 11
        Page D 12
        Page D 13
    Overview of the potential applicability of farming systems research to U.S. small farms and U.S. research and extension, by Art Hansen
        Page E 1
        Page E 2
        Page E 3
        Page E 4
        Page E 5
        Page E 6
        Page E 7
        Page E 8
        Page E 9
        Page E 10
        Page E 11
    Bibliography
        Page F 1
        Page F 2
        Page F 3
    Back Cover
        Back Cover
Full Text



January 1981 CD-3




FARMING SYSTEMS
OF ALACHUA COUNTY, FLORIDA

AN OVERVIEW WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION

TO LOW RESOURCE FARMERS






D" _


/ls


by
Art Hansen, David Griffith, John Butler, and Sandra Powers
(Department of Anthropology)
Elon Gilbert (Department of Food and Resource Economics)
Robin Lauriault (Department of History)
Masuma Downie (Department of Social Foundations of Education)
with
James Dean and Sandra Russo


Center for Community and Rural Development
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL


/8.ooz
/8 .071




Soos\ v^ Poos5


FARMING SYSTEMS OF ALACHUA COUNTY, FLORIDA

AN OVERVIEW

WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO LOW RESOURCE FARMERS
















by

Art Hansen, David Griffith, John Butler, and Sandra Powers
(Department of Anthropology)
Elon Gilbert (Department of Food and Resource Economics)
Robin Lauriault (Department of History)
Masuma Downie (Department of Social Foundations of Education)

with


James Dean and Sandra Russo


Center for Community and
University of
Gainesville,


Rural Development
Florida
Florida


January 1981











ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Our primary debt is to the many citizens of Alachua County who patiently

answered our questions and guided our analysis. We sincerely appreciate the

time that many farmers spent with us, and we hope they are satisfied with our

efforts. A number of research and extension scientists from the university and

the county extension office were also very helpful, especially Mr. Gary Brinen,

the Alachua County Extension Horticulture Agent, and Mr. George Clough in vege-

table crops at the university.

Dr. James S. Wershow has been of particular assistance. His expertise

as farmer, economist, and lawyer was very valuable to us, and he was extremely

generous with his time. Mr. Thomas W. Radford of the County Property Appraiser's

Office helped us obtain the list on which we based our sample, and Miss Emelie

D. Labeur, Miss Tammy Killinger, Mrs. Mary Fearn, and Ms. Carol Lauriault han-

dled the prodigious tasks of processing and typing all of the papers associated

with the survey and report.

The survey research on which this report is based was funded by two Uni-

versity of Florida sources, the Center for Community and Rural Development

(which also funded publication of this report) and the Office of Sponsored Re-

search. We gratefully acknowledge their financial support.







TABLE OF CONTENTS


PAGE
page

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION . . . . ... . 1
by Art Hansen

1. Purpose . . . . 1
2. Alachua County . . . 2
3. Outline of the Report . . 5

CHAPTER TWO: ALACHUA COUNTY BACKGROUND . . . . 8
by Robin Lauriault

1. Ecology . . . . 8
2. Agricultural History Since 1900 . .. 11

CHAPTER THREE: PRODUCTION AND FARMERS IN 1980 . . ... 23
by Art Hansen and David Griffith

1. Non-Farm Units in the Sample (15 of 91) 23
2. Farm Location, Size, and Commodities . 25
3. Production Categories . . ... 29
4. Farmer Categories . . .... 32

CHAPTER FOUR: FARMING SYSTEMS . . . .... 41
by Art Hansen and David Griffith

1. Defining the Farming Systems . ... 41
2. Farming Systems and Recommendation Domains 44
3. Livestock-Centered Systems . ... 48
4. Crop-Centered Systems . . ... 51
5. Mixed Systems . . . .... 54

CHAPTER FIVE: LOW RESOURCE FARMERS . . . ... 57
by Art Hansen and David Griffith

1. The Frequency of Low Resource Farmers .. 57
2. The Context of Beliefs . .... 60
3. County Low Resource Farmers--Poverty
and Isolation . . . 64
4. Time Commitment .............. 68
5. Complexity, Gardens, Priorities, and
Subsistence . . . ... 71
6. Motivation . . . . 73
7. Production Categories and Management
Requirements . . . 77
8. Utilization of Resources . .... .. 81
9. Management of Resources . ... 83
10. Data From Other Surveys . ... 85









PAGE


CHAPTER SIX: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
by Art Hansen . . . . ... .. .... .96

APPENDIX A: GRAPHS SHOWING COUNTY PRODUCTION OF VARIOUS
COMMODITIES FROM 1900 TO 1974
by Robin Lauriault . . . . ... A-1


APPENDIX B: METHODOLOGY
by Art Hansen and David Griffith . . . .

APPENDIX C: MARKETING OUTLETS FOR ALACHUA COUNTY FARM
COMMODITIES
by Sandra Powers and John Butler . . . .

APPENDIX D: PRODUCTION AND MARKETING PRACTICES FOR BEEF
CATTLE IN ALACHUA COUNTY: A COMPARISON OF FARMING
SYSTEMS OF COMMERCIAL AND LOW RESOURCE FARMERS
by Sandra Russo and David Griffith . . .


. B-1



. C-1


. .D-1


APPENDIX E:


OVERVIEW OF THE POTENTIAL APPLICABILITY OF FARMING
SYSTEMS RESEARCH TO U.S. SMALL FARMS AND U.S.
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION


by Art Hansen . . . . ... .... E-1

APPENDIX F: BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . ... . F-1







LIST OF TABLES


PAGE


TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE

TABLE


TABLE

TABLE


TABLE


TABLE


I: UTILIZATION OF LAND IN ALACHUA COUNTY . 8

II: AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS IN ALACHUA COUNTY .. 10

III: FARMS AS PROPORTION OF UNITS SURVEYED . .. 24

IV: FREQUENCY OF FARMS BY ACREAGE . .... .25

V: FREQUENCY OF VARIOUS COMMODITIES ON COUNTY FARMS .28

VI: FARM PRODUCTION CATEGORIES . . ... 30

VII: SEX OF FARM OPERATORS . . .... 32

VIII: CAPITAL RESOURCES COMMITTED TO FARMING .... .37

IX: TIME AND ENERGY COMMITMENTS TO AGRICULTURE . 37

X: DEPENDENCE AND PRIORITIES OF COUNTY FARMERS
IN AGRICULTURE . . . . 39

XI: FARMER ORIENTATION TOWARD CHANGE .. . .. 39

XII: FARMING SYSTEMS AND RECOMMENDATION DOMAINS
FOR ALACHUA COUNTY FARMERS . .... 47

XIII: SMALL FARMS IN THE USA, FLORIDA, AND ALACHUA
COUNTY BY ANNUAL SALES AND BY ACREAGE (1974) 58

XIV: SMALL FARMS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN STATES, USA
1974: PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL FARMS BY ANNUAL
SALES AND BY ACREAGE . . .... 59

XV: PERCENTAGE DECLINE IN SOUTHEASTERN 13 STATES
FROM 1959 TO 1969 . .... . 61

XVI: PRODUCTION AND FARMER CATEGORIES AMONG ALACHUA
COUNTY LOW RESOURCE FARMERS ........... .. 68

XVII: PRODUCTION AND FARMER CATEGORIES AMONG ALACHUA
COUNTY HIGH RESOURCE FARMERS . . .. 69

XVIII: LOW RESOURCE FARMER UTILIZATION OF FARMLAND
FOR PASTURE AND CROPS . . .. 82

XIX: UTILIZATION OF FARMLAND FOR CROPS AND PASTURE
BY SYSTEM . . .. . . 83

XX: USE OF INPUTS BY PRODUCTION CATEGORIES . .. 84
iv


TABLE


TABLE


TABLE


TABLE


TABLE


TABLE







PAGE

TABLE XXI: LOW AND HIGH RESOURCE CATTLE-RAISERS . .... 86

TABLE XXII: LOW AND HIGH RESOURCE WATERMELON PRODUCERS
IN THE COUNTY . . . .. .89

TABLE XXIII: LOW AND HIGH RESOURCE SQUASH PRODUCERS IN
THE COUNTY . . . .... .... 90

LIST OF MAPS

MAP I: LOCATION OF ALACHUA COUNTY . . . . 4

MAP II: DISTRIBUTION OF SURVEYED FARMS IN ALACHUA COUNTY ...... 26

MAP III: DISTRIBUTION OF SURVEYED LOW RESOURCE FARMERS
IN ALACHUA COUNTY . . . .... . 36


LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE I: AGRICULTURAL CALENDAR FOR ALACHUA COUNTY . ... 19

FIGURE II: TRADITIONAL AND FARMING SYSTEMS APPROACHES . ... 43


LIST OF GRAPHS

GRAPH I: NUMBER AND SIZE OF COUNTY FARMS 1905 TO 1974 . ... 16

GRAPH II: CORN AND CATTLE PRODUCTION IN COUNTY 1900 TO 1974 ..... .16

GRAPH III: TOBACCO PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . . .... A-2

GRAPH IV: WATERMELON PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . .... A-2

GRAPH V: PEANUT PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . .... . . A-2

GRAPH VI: SWEET PEPPER PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY ...... . A-3

GRAPH VII: HOG PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . .... . A-3

GRAPH VIII: CHICKEN AND EGG PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . ... A-3

GRAPH IX: SWEET POTATO AND SNAP BEAN PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . A-4

GRAPH X: SQUASH AND CUCUMBER PRODUCTION IN THE COUNTY . A-4








CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1. Purpose:

The following study examines the farming systems that are found in

Alachua County, Florida in 1980. A farming system is "the pattern of resources

and processes of resource use in a farming unit" (M. J. T. Norman 1979). Each

farmer interprets the opportunities and constraints of the ecological (climate

and soils, crops and animals, pests and plagues) and social (economy, culture,

politics) environment in which he or she lives, and each farmer then utilizes

some of the resources that are available to produce a certain mix of crops and/or

animals. The farming system that results is the interaction of environment and

resources; it is integrated by the farmer's management decisions and work.

At one level each farm may be considered a unique farming system. At a

more abstract or general level, there are a number of similarities among indi-

vidual farms and farmers, such that individual systems may be grouped into fair-

ly homogeneous categories of farming systems (TAC 1978; Gilbert, et. al. 1980;

M. J. T. Norman 1979). This study reports on these general categories--their

systemic characteristics, their prevalence in the county, and the historic and

management rationale behind their existence. Crops and livestock are products

of these systems, and information about how these systems work can strengthen

existing commodity-based research and extension efforts.

Although the study examines large and small farms, the researchers are

primarily interested in smaller farms (whether defined by acreage, herd size,

annual sales, or capital investment) and the study is intended to identify the

characteristics of small, low resource farmers in Alachua County. There are

more than academic reasons for this investigation into farming systems. By








CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1. Purpose:

The following study examines the farming systems that are found in

Alachua County, Florida in 1980. A farming system is "the pattern of resources

and processes of resource use in a farming unit" (M. J. T. Norman 1979). Each

farmer interprets the opportunities and constraints of the ecological (climate

and soils, crops and animals, pests and plagues) and social (economy, culture,

politics) environment in which he or she lives, and each farmer then utilizes

some of the resources that are available to produce a certain mix of crops and/or

animals. The farming system that results is the interaction of environment and

resources; it is integrated by the farmer's management decisions and work.

At one level each farm may be considered a unique farming system. At a

more abstract or general level, there are a number of similarities among indi-

vidual farms and farmers, such that individual systems may be grouped into fair-

ly homogeneous categories of farming systems (TAC 1978; Gilbert, et. al. 1980;

M. J. T. Norman 1979). This study reports on these general categories--their

systemic characteristics, their prevalence in the county, and the historic and

management rationale behind their existence. Crops and livestock are products

of these systems, and information about how these systems work can strengthen

existing commodity-based research and extension efforts.

Although the study examines large and small farms, the researchers are

primarily interested in smaller farms (whether defined by acreage, herd size,

annual sales, or capital investment) and the study is intended to identify the

characteristics of small, low resource farmers in Alachua County. There are

more than academic reasons for this investigation into farming systems. By







2

studying existing systems, researchers may divide farmers into sets that are

fairly homogeneous. Each set then may be treated as a recommendation domain,

that is, a collection of farms and farmers similar enough to benefit from the

same recommendations (D. Norman 1978; CIMMYT 1979).

This research is oriented toward action, that is, toward (1) discovering

systems and elements of systems that sustain viable smaller farms; (2) clarify-

ing which elements or technologies appear most appropriate as targets for fur-

ther small farm research and extension efforts; and (3) communicating this in-

formation to farmers, researchers, and extension agents. The next steps after

this survey are to further specify the commodities and technologies that are

of highest priority and then work on them. We have already begun that process

by a few preliminary studies of specific commodities, but further work is now

up to other research and extension personnel.

The authors of the study will consider it a failure if it remains a docu-

ment on a shelf without serving as part of the foundation for continuing, small

farm oriented, farming systems research and extension programs in the county

(IFAS International Faculty 1980). Similar programs are currently being prac-

ticed in a growing number of developing countries with promising results

(Gilbert,et. al. 1980; TAC 1978; Hildebrand 1978). This study represents part

of a general effort to develop the University of Florida as a center for re-

search and training in farming systems research and extension (FSR/E) to serve

both domestic and international agricultural development efforts. The domestic

program is beginning with an initial focus on Alachua County, the county where

the university is located.

2. Alachua County:

Alachua County is a flat, lake-strewn area of sandy, relatively infertile








3

soils in the humid sub-tropics (Map 1). The growing season is 230 to 295 days

long. In the late 1800s this was one of the most important agricultural coun-

ties in Florida, but the county is no longer that significant nor, although

still important, is agriculture as important within the county as in earlier

decades. Today 80% of the people live in or clustered around the county seat,

and the university is the major employer.

A visitor's first impression of rural Alachua County in 1980 is the

dominance of managed pine plantations and unmanaged piney woods. The county

appears to be covered with trees with occasional pastures and planted fields.

This surface correctly expresses the frequency of timber but camouflages the

extent and heterogeneity of farming. Once past the screen of trees, a more

thorough investigation reveals a dynamic and complex agriculture.

The heterogeneity of production surprises people who are accustomed to

areas that specialize in one or two crops or animals. Beef cattle are the over-

whelming preference in livestock, but hogs and goats are also important, fol-

lowed by a variety of poultry, rabbits, bees, and a number of horses for recre-

ation. Popular crops include field corn, soybeans, pecans, tobacco, water-

melons, peanuts, and many other vegetables (cucumbers, squash, bell peppers,

beans, peas, etc.), as well as some citrus, fruits, berries, and ornamentals.

Some farms are highly specialized in one of these commodities. Others concen-

trate on two or three, while still others are more complex and produce a large

number of crops as well as beef cattle and other livestock.

There are significant differences among farmers in terms of their moti-

vations and commitments of time and energy to agriculture. Some are full-time

farmers dependent on farming for their livelihood. Many others are part-time

who work off the farm at either part-time or full-time jobs. Their farms sup-

ply varying proportions of their own food and cash income. Other farmers are
I







MAP I
LOCATION OF ALACHUA COUNTY


Alachua
County


largely retired and often more concerned about supplying their own food needs

rather than extra cash income. Besides these farmers, there are other rural

and agricultural land-owning people who do not farm. These non-farmers own ag-

ricultural land primarily for investment, recreational, or residential reasons,

and their land is generally in timber or sometimes in pasture and/or tree

crops.

The variety of people and production combinations results in a variety

of farming systems. At the same time the existence and characteristics of the

various systems are visually camouflaged by patterns of residence and land

leasing. The seeming unity of house and surrounding fields is very often de-

ceiving, as units that once were farms are now split by inheritance, sale, and








5

leasing arrangements to create other farms. Unit size varies widely, and many

working farms are composed of fragments of land, some owned and others leased.

Side by side are farms with thousands of acres and others with one hundred acres

or less. The focus of this study is those smaller farms, their production,

their complexity, and their reason for being.

3. Outline of the Report:

This report provides a multifaceted view of county agriculture., The

first four chapters consider the entirety of county agriculture and farming sys-

tems, while chapter five focuses on only the small or low resource farmers.

Chapter two examines the ecological and historical background to the

1980 systems. There is an obvious variation in soil quality and drainage with-

in the county which affects the geographic distribution of specific commodities

(watermelon, for instance) and farming systems. There is an equally obvious

variation among farmers in the power, authority, and wealth they possess, and

undoubtedly a corresponding variation in the extent to which they receive crop

allotments and other official and institutional favors. This analysis does not

examine these soil and social differences but, instead, considers these physi-

cal, biological, and institutional factors to be environmental parameters with-

in which all farmers must operate.

Chapters three through five analyze our findings from the 1980 random

sample of agriculturally assessed land. Based on the sample, agricultural pro-

duction and farmers are categorized in Chapter three. First, on the basis of

technical and socio-economic characteristics, commodities are grouped into five

enterprise categories: beef cattle, non-beef livestock, agronomic crops, hor-

ticultural crops, and specialty crops. Then, county farms are separated into

three production categories: livestock-centered, crop-centered, and mixed.







6
These three are sub-divided by enterprises to form eight production associa-

tions:

Livestock-Centered Farms

1. Beef-centered
2. Non-beef centered

Crop-Centered Farms

3. Agronomic crops only
4. Horticultural crops only
5. Both agronomic and horticultural crops
6. Specialty crops only

Mixed or Balanced Farms

7. With tobacco
8. Without tobacco

County farmers are classified by their commitments of capital (high resource or

low resource) and time (full-time or part-time) to agriculture, their farming

priorities (income or food subsistence), and their orientation (growth, stabili-

ty, or decline).

Chapter four expands on the definitions of farming systems and recommen-

dation domains. Then nine domains are formed by synthesizing the eight produc-

tion associations and the difference between high and low resource farmers.

The first association must be split to form low and high resource beef-centered,

but almost all of the other associations are composed of only high (# 3, 5, and

7) or only low resource farmers (# 2, 4, and 6). Each of these farming systems

is internally homogeneous enough to serve as a recommendation domain. The last

production association (mixed without tobacco) is least satisfactory. It re-

mains a heterogeneous collection of low and high resource, full and part-time

farmers.

Chapter five focuses on low resource farmers. After examining the pre-

valence of these farmers in the U.S. and some reasons for renewed interest in








7

their situation, it discusses some common beliefs and assumptions about small,

low resource, low income, or disadvantaged farmers that are found in the agri-

cultural literature. Then the chapter examines the characteristics and varia-

tion that are features of Alachua County low resource farmers. Based on this

examination, some implications for county research and extension programs are

pointed out.

Chapter six summarizes the report and draws some conclusions about county

agriculture, farming systems research, and county low resource farmers. Although

the surveys and this report extend our understanding of the farming systems and

low resource farmer situations in the county, this is not a definitive study.

Conclusions and recommendations from here should be viewed as guides for further

research and extension.

This guide is written for a wide audience that includes farmers, local

elected officials, Alachua County research and extension personnel, as well

as scientists in other areas. Methodological information (see Appendix B) and

many hypotheses have been advanced in this report to help local people plan re-

search and development programs and to help other scientists who are also

wrestling with the utilization and evaluation of farming systems research (see

Appendix E).







CHAPTER TWO

ALACHUA COUNTY BACKGROUND

1. Ecology:

Alachua County, Florida is situated in the north-central part of the

Florida Peninsula. Gainesville, the county seat and principal urban community,

is located in the middle of the county at 290 38' North and 820 19' East. The

total area of the county is 579,840 acres (231,936 hectares) and the 1980 esti-

mated population is about 144,000, of whom almost 80% live in or on the fringe

of the city of Gainesville (Alachua County Department of Planning and Develop-

ment 1980). The land is flat to gently rolling with few slopes in excess of

100. There are four large lakes and numerous swamps and ponds, habitat of the

Bald Cypress, the American Bald Eagle, and a growing population of alligators.

TABLE I

UTILIZATION OF LAND IN ALACHUA COUNTY

(from North Central Florida Regional Planning Council)

Land in Pasture and Crops 32%

Land in Managed Pine Plantation 22%

Productive Use 54%

Lakes, Swamps, Marshes, etc. 10-15%

Vacant or Urban 31-36%

TOTAL 100%


Managed pine forests occupy about 22% of the land, while lakes, swamps,

and wet marshes take up another 10 to 15%. About 32% of the land is in pasture

or crops with the remainder being either vacant or urban (North Central Florida







CHAPTER TWO

ALACHUA COUNTY BACKGROUND

1. Ecology:

Alachua County, Florida is situated in the north-central part of the

Florida Peninsula. Gainesville, the county seat and principal urban community,

is located in the middle of the county at 290 38' North and 820 19' East. The

total area of the county is 579,840 acres (231,936 hectares) and the 1980 esti-

mated population is about 144,000, of whom almost 80% live in or on the fringe

of the city of Gainesville (Alachua County Department of Planning and Develop-

ment 1980). The land is flat to gently rolling with few slopes in excess of

100. There are four large lakes and numerous swamps and ponds, habitat of the

Bald Cypress, the American Bald Eagle, and a growing population of alligators.

TABLE I

UTILIZATION OF LAND IN ALACHUA COUNTY

(from North Central Florida Regional Planning Council)

Land in Pasture and Crops 32%

Land in Managed Pine Plantation 22%

Productive Use 54%

Lakes, Swamps, Marshes, etc. 10-15%

Vacant or Urban 31-36%

TOTAL 100%


Managed pine forests occupy about 22% of the land, while lakes, swamps,

and wet marshes take up another 10 to 15%. About 32% of the land is in pasture

or crops with the remainder being either vacant or urban (North Central Florida








9

Regional Planning Council 1972). The eastern half of the county is characteri-

zed by pine flatwoods and hammocks of oak, sweet gum, magnolia, and palm. The

western half of the county has slightly greater relief and generally superior

drainage, making it more suitable for most crops.

Agriculture in the county enjoys a growing season of 295 days, based on

an average date of February 14th for the last killing frost and December 6th

for the first. The effective crop season, however, is only 230 days, due to

the high variability of frost dates (based on four in five years occurrences--

Dohrenwend 1978). Another more detailed way to describe the growing time for

plants is to measure the number of actual hours during a year that the tempera-

ture stays between 50F and 86F--these are called the number of growing degree

days at base 500 860. The number for Alachua County is high, approximately

7000, and temperature efficiency is about 10.5 hundreds (USDA-USDC 1980;

Dohrenwend 1978).

The area is included in Trewartha's modified Koppen classification of

CFa, a mesothermal continental forest climate with hot summers and mild winters

(Trewartha 1943). The predominant atmospheric zonal feature is the North Atlan-

tic Subtropical High. The proximity of adjacent bodies of warm water supplying

moisture to inland convectional systems tends to offset the effects of this

high pressure zone, particularly during summer months (Dohrenwend 1978).

The average temperature of the coldest month (January) at Gainesville

is 57.80F (140C) and the average annual extreme minimum is 230F (-50C). The

average for the warmest month (July) is 810F (270C) and the average annual ex-

treme maximum is 97.40F (360C). Extreme minimum temperatures are highly vari-

able from year to year. With an average annual temperature of 70 F (210C), the

area records a thermal anomaly of approximately -7.80F (-40C), making it one

of the colder lowland locations at its latitude world-wide (Dohrenwend 1978).







10

With the Central Gulf Coast it experiences lower winter minima than any other

parallel location on earth (Trewartha 1943). The annual soil temperature at

the 10 cm depth is 730F (230C), varying by 28F (16C) annually (Dohrenwend

1978).

Average annual precipitation for Gainesville is 54.8 inches (1370 mm)

with about 60% of the total occurring June through September, mostly in the

form of intense convectional thunderstorms. Alachua County is a region of light

winds with only an occasional summer thunderstorm or a rare hurricane producing

winds of damaging force, although hurricanes occasionally produce significant

rainfall in the period August through October. Winter rainfall is most frequent-

ly associated with cyclonic circulation and the march of polar fronts. Normal

dry periods occur in the Spring and Fall with November receiving only 1.8 inches

(44 mm) (Dohrenwend 1978).

TABLE II

AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS IN ALACHUA COUNTY

Growing Season 230-295 days a year
Growing Degree Days
(base 500-860F) 7000
Average Coldest Temperature 23F (-50C)
Average Hottest Temperature 97.4F (360C)
Average Annual Rainfall 54.8 inches (1370 mm)
(60% from June through September)
Average Occurrence of Severe
Drought every seven years

Severe drought conditions occur in the county on an average of every seven

years. Less severe deficits are experienced every four years on the average.

Occurring in both summer and winter, such droughts are the result of very stable

conditions created by a westward extension of the Bermuda High in the form of a








11

high pressure ridge. Fortunately, this feature is weaker during summer months,

and convection can usually occur as surface heating intensifies. Average an-

nual pan evaporation is 67 in. (1674 mm) with a 20 to 80% variance depending

upon the state of the weather and the condition of the vegetation (Dohrenwend

1978).

The last major environmental feature influencing agricultural productivi-

ty in the county is soil quality. Composed of sandy marine sediments underlain

by limestone and clay, local soils are generally quite acid and contain natural

phosphate. Fertility is fair to poor, and fertilizers are quickly leached out

in the better drained formations suitable for most crops. Nevertheless, Alachua

County has historically been an area of relative agricultural importance. To

the extent to which agriculture and its importance have changed, it is not the

sun nor the rain nor the earth which has altered the situation, but rather the

changing means and relations of production in the world economy.

2. Agricultural History Since 1900:

The year 1900 inaugurated an agricultural renaissance in Alachua County.

The great freezes of 1895/6 and 1899 had virtually obliterated local citrus

plantings causing some farmers to give up and return to the more familiar cli-

mates to the north. Those who remained here continued to grow early and late

vegetables, field corn, oats and cash crops of Sea Island cotton, watermelon

and peanuts in conjunction with hogs and cattle.

Practically all commodities showed an appreciable increase in planted

acreage during the first five years of the century. This growth is seen against

a fairly stable local population growing from 32,245 in 1900 to 34,007 five

years later (a 1% annual population increase in contrast to a 4% annual growth

rate in the previous decade) (State of Florida, 1905a). Agricultural growth







12

then was not in response to increased local demands but rather to an expanding

national market associated with European immigration into the North.

Planted acreage climbed steadily for nearly all crops from 1900 through

1924/25 (see Appendix A). Vegetable production increased sharply in response

to growing demands. Corn and peanut production increased four-fold and more to

feed larger livestock populations, while rising cotton prices made the East

Florida Fancy long-staple cotton a profitable crop (State of Florida, 1911/12-

1926/27, and U.S. Agricultural Census, 1925). A graphic spire in peach tree

settings in the early 1920s reflects a Waldo man's experimental efforts with

new peach varieties (Alachua County News, 1924), but this failed due to poor

marketing prospects in conjunction with insufficient chilling hours for the

planted varieties. This effort was typical of local producers' attempts to find

new commodities for outside markets.

The average farmer of 1910 was beginning to purchase commercial fertilizer

(mostly organic) to supplement the organic products of his 80 to 100 acre farm.

In addition to animal manures this included the "green manures", legumes such

as small velvet beans, cowpeas and beggarweed (State of Florida, 1905b and U.S.

Railway Administration, 1919). He relied on a pair of mules or perhaps draft

horses to turn the light soils of the county as well as to pull out the ubiqui-

tous roots and stumps. In addition he had about ten head of cattle, ten hogs,

and two dozen chickens.

His biggest crop was corn, occupying from one half to three quarters of

his cropland but yielding only about 15 bushels per acre (State of Florida,

1911/12). He may have planted a field of cotton and almost certainly grew the

all-purpose peanut. This was inter-cropped with corn and, after the corn har-

vest, was "hogged over" (eaten by hogs) or grazed by cattle. The animals both








13

cultivated and fertilized this plot for the. next planting of cotton or perhaps

watermelons or sweet potatoes (Popenoe and Swisher, n.d.). If his farm was in

the southeastern part of the county, he probably grew.vegetables. The average

per farm value of these was $203 in 1911, placing the county-second in the state

among the principal agricultural counties (State of Florida, 1911/12). The most

common vegetables grown during this period were sweet potatoes, cucumbers, snap

beans, watermelons and cabbage. Farmers.were nearly self-sufficient, every farm

having its own garden planted in vegetables and sugar cane for syrup. A wide

variety of fruit trees including pears, figs, and oranges, supplied local needs

(A.C.L. Railway Publications, 1907, 1912).

In the year 1916 the boll weevil infested the late-maturing, long-staple,

Sea Island cotton, and countyproduction fell from 5,101 bales in 1915 to two

bales five years later. Upland.cotton began to beplanted, although it never

brought the prices of the long-staple varieties. It reached,peak production of

about one thousand bales in 1924 but declined rapidly thereafter (State of Flori-

da, 1916/17-1924/25). The demise of King Cotton, though never really king in

Alachua County, may have freed as much as 25% of the cleared land and labor

power of the farmer to be turned to other crops. Increased demand during World

War I created a larger market for food crops, and the production of sweet pota-

toes, corn, squash, livestock, and other commodities saw their sharpest rises

in county history. Labor shortages due to manpower needs for the war were

probably restricted to the period from 1918 to 1920.

The 1920s saw the end of agricultural prosperity in much of the South.

By mid-decade the county's agriculture was in trouble. Virtually all commodi-

ties, including livestock, show steady to rapid declines that are more drastic
than for the state as a whole (State of Florida, 1924/25-1931/32).

Agriculture in North Florida by 1925 may have been feeling the full







14
effects of competition from those areas to the south which had been opened up

for vegetable production in the first quarter of the century. With the rapid

expansion and consolidation of Plant's rail network in Central Florida came more

progressive, more specialized types of farming systems that enjoyed a climatic

advantage over Alachua County that significantly reduced the local market "win-

dow". (A market "window" is a period of time during which local production of

fresh produce has the market all to itself, areas to the north not yet ready to

harvest and more southerly produce being already sold.) This new competition,

along with land speculation which tended to disrupt agriculture in general, may

explain pre-depression declines for a number of commodities.

The national depression deepened the agricultural crisis of the previous

decade. Production of many vegetable crops bottomed out, however, around 1932

and then began a slow, steady recovery that was to continue for most crops up

through the mid-1950s. Among major field crops, peanuts flucuate but rise; to-

bacco recovers rapidly; and corn and watermelon production remains fairly stable.

Livestock holdings show a gradual increase (U.S. Agricultural Census, 1935-

1954).

Preliminary data indicates that the depression era in the county may

have been less severe than in other areas of the South. Tenant farmers were

never more than 31 per cent of the farmer population, and the proportion of

farms mortgaged was only about 25 per cent, at a 34 per cent ratio of debt to

value. Most farms lost were probably sold for taxes rather than foreclosed

upon by banks. The number of farms declined by less than 7 per cent (U.S. Agri-

cultural Census, 1935-39).

Marketing methods for cattle, horses, mules, and hogs were improved with

the opening in 1935 of the Gainesville Livestock Market, now the largest and

oldest in the state. A few years later the Farmer's Produce Market of Gainesville








15

opened up for both livestock and vegetable sales. A Newberry market traded in

hogs only. The opening of these markets eliminated the necessity of hauling

produce and livestock to the big markets in Jacksonville and Tampa, though some

farmers may have continued to do so in hopes of getting better prices (Gaines-

ville Daily Sun, 1954).

During the depression years, eastern Alachua County started growing Irish

potatoes (State of Florida, 1935), and county production reached its peak in the

mid-1930s. Lima bean production also became important for the fresh vegetable

market in the Hawthorne and La Crosse areas, with the former district specializ-

ing in the Fordhook variety (A. T. Andrews, personal communication).

The advent of World War II brought significant changes in agricultural

trends in the county. The war years were a time of high demand but scarce labor,

so overall production of crops with high labor requirements (including most

vegetables) fell, while livestock holdings increased.

The really significant changes wrought by the war came in the post-war

era when the federal government, in response to anticipated over-production, be-

gan acreage allotment programs for nuts and tobacco. This substantially reduced

crop acreage, but farmers with allotments benefited from improved prices as well

as increased yields per acre (A. T. Andrews, personal communication). Production

of other crops such as squash, cucumbers, peppers,,and tung nuts increased, as

well as cattle (U.S. Agricultural Census, 1939-1949).

This period also saw a great decline in farm numbers and a particularly

sharp increase in average farm size which continued into the 1960s (Chart 1).

Numbers of farms dropped by about one half in the fifteen year period, 1945 to

1960, while average size increased from 181 to 348 acres (U.S. Agricultural Cen-

sus, 1944-1959).








GRAPH I


NUMBER AND SIZE OF COUNTY FARMS


*---@ NUMBER OF FARMS
*- SIZE OF FARM


0 -L
1900 05


10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 69 74


YEARS


80
V)
70
70


Z
-r 50
0
uJ


U) 30

00 20
o
i10
r


GRAPH IT

CORN AND CATTLE PRODUCTION IN COUNTY

1900 TO 1974

--* CATTLE
A *---@ CORN


1927, GILCHRIST COUNTY FORMED
I I I I I II I I


65 69 74


YEARS


1905 TO 1974


400 -
(n
350 0
c
300 -

250
LL-
200 L
O
LJ
150 N
100 Lij
(9
50 r
iB


190005 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60








17

The increase in farm size, rising land values, and increased labor and

equipment costs resulted in farming becoming a capital-intensive enterprise.

New farming technology required the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and more

sophisticated machinery such as tractors, mechanical harvesters, and spraying

and irrigating equipment. Greater expenditures and new expertise were needed

(Popenoe and Swisher, n.d.). Many small farmers were unable to compete in the

high volume market requiring higher yields and more land in production. They

either sold or lost their farms and joined the urban labor pool.

The decade of the 1950s was characterized by the increasing domination

of livestock, cattle in particular. Most vegetable crops reached their peak

production in mid-decade and then fell sharply (see Appendix A). Snap beans and

possibly cucumbers held steady while peppers showed an increase in acreage '(U.S.

Agricultural Census, 1949-1959). Watermelon production figures for the county

are lacking but acreage declined steadily. Tung nut production, centered in the

western part of the county, peaked in the early 1950s and then fell steadily af-

ter the introduction of synthetic shellacs coupled with several late killing

frosts (U.S. Agricultural Census, 1959). Tobacco continued to be important,

and the opening of the High Springs Tobacco Warehouse in 1953 facilitated mar-

keting of that crop (Gainesville Daily Sun, 1954).

For the typical farmer of 1954, his father's 1910 homestead was a distant

memory indeed! The farmer in 1954 took an increased interest in government

policies affecting income tax, property assessment, crop subsidies, price sup-

ports, and import quotas on foreign produce and was very much aware of the poli-

tical currents affecting decisions in Washington and Tallahassee. No longer

virtually self sufficient, the farm was more specialized. Many depended on

government allotments in tobacco or peanuts. These and other specialty crops

required a "new technological package" which included intensive use of chemicals,







18

herbicides, and mechanization (Popenoe and Swisher, n.d.). These not only al-

lowed the farmer to cultivate greater acreages but forced him to do so in order

to pay for increased costs.

The farmer had become a businessman operating with an average of $15,000

in assets (U.S. Agricultural Census, 1954). Typically the farm consisted of

about 250 acres that the farmer owned, and additional land that he leased for

cultivation. Fewer than half the farmers owned tractors. About 23% of the far-

mers depended on motor power alone, 25% on a combination of animal and motor

power, and the other half either used only animals or leased tractors or ani-

mals. Nevertheless there were 1.39 tractors per reporting farm, indicating a

high reliance on mechanization for the larger producers (U.S. Agricultural Cen-

sus, 1954).

By the end of the 1950s labor was becoming the chief constraint for many

crops. New urban employment opportunities resulted in a steadily declining sup-

ply of farm labor as people either migrated to the cities or commuted to work.

Farm wages were inflating. The added cost and, perhaps even more significantly,

the uncertainty of adequate labor became major preoccupations. This affected

labor-intensive crops such as vegetables that require hand picking. Farmers

could no longer depend on enough labor being available at a price that was con-

sidered reasonable during the critical harvest period. These considerations

prompted many farmers to reduce or eliminate labor-intensive vegetables and

concentrate, instead, on livestock and/or crops that could be mechanically har-

vested.

Another way that farmers reduced their labor demands was by choosing

different crops that did not simultaneously demand labor inputs. Figure I il-

lustrates the crop cycles for many important county crops. The heighth of each

bar shows the intensity of labor demanded at different times during the cycle.





/ = Machine Labor

= Hand Labor


CUCUMBERS


PEPPERS


WATERMELONS


PEANUTS



TOBACCO


Iz~P


Seedbeds


Setting
Planting plants
Preparation
rR7f


Field 120 day
Corn 110 day /
1 90 day


/l / 7


,1~~


z/ //,-


NOV. DEC. JAN.


FEB. MAR. APR. MAY JUNE JULY AUG.


FIGURE I Agricultural Calendar for Alachua County ( by Robin Lauriault)


SQUASH


SOYBEANS


SEP.


OCT.


A 0 Y /Soybean
^-T~W / /7


SEP.


__ I


~-T7~


f -I- 7


777T"


--~ ~-


II JJ


-- --


J l Im


~7~C~~
I


- I


~1~5~


" /


/ /







20

As shown, certain crops may be grown more than once a year, and different crops

have different cycles. The staggered cycles permit farmers to combine various

crops without necessarily overloading their labor supply. Although two or more

crops may be growing at the same time, their peak labor demands (usually at

planting/transplanting and harvesting) may not coincide. In addition, farmers

may plant more than one crop a year on the same piece of land by following one

crop after another. This inter-relationship of crop labor demands (how they

fit together during peak periods or during the whole year) affected the decisions

farmers made about growing various crops.

With the exception of cattle and poultry, county agricultural activity

fell from 1955 to 1970. Acres of cropland fell from 50,885 in 1954 to 40,578

in 1969. Large areas, much of it good farmland, were either bought for nonagri-

cultural use or sold out of private hands into public ownership. The fundamental

causes of this decline in the relative importance of agriculture were linked to

changes in American agriculture in general. The rise of highly capitalized

farming corporations in southern Florida which specialized in volume vegetable

production and were locked into complex marketing arrangements with big retail

grocery chains drove farm receipts below the cost of production for many small

farmers. Additional problems included the lack of a dependable labor supply,

rising taxes, and rising production costs, including the costs of labor, ferti-

lizer, fuel, and chemicals. An erratic climate and a small market "window"

have further hastened the demise of small scale agriculture locally. The sur-

vivors are generally those who own significant acreage outright or earn non-

farm incomes.

The period since 1965 has seen alterations in the trends of farm size

and number. Both figures have stabilized, due in part to the break-up of some

large estates and to the purchase of small acreages in the country by








21

middle-class urban dwellers for small beef operations or other low-labor activi-

ties. In terms of commodities, soybean production rose locally during the

mid-1970s. The old hog/peanut association has declined throughout the 1960s

and 1970s because it required more labor and attention than the farming system

that combined cattle, field corn, and soybeans--all commodities that may be

withheld from the market to await better prices (carry-over capability). Simi-

larly, the short carry-over of all vegetable crops denies the small producer

the market flexibility he requires to survive price lulls (A. T. Andrews, per-

sonal communication).

For the above reasons, Alachua County which ranked first in value of ag-

ricultural production per farm in 1890 had fallen to forty-third place among

Florida's counties by 1974 (U.S. Agricultural Census, 1974 and A. T. Andrews,

personal communication). Only one vegetable crop shows a stable production

trend, that being peppers. This labor-intensive crop is profitable despite

high production costs, which indicates that local farming is still a viable en-

terprise if the price is right. Among field crops, corn is still most important.

Though declining in acreage from around 35,000 acres in 1950 to about 25,000

today, average yields have increased in the same period from around 14 bushels

per acre to 70 bushels per acre. Thus overall corn production has increased in

Alachua County from around half a million bushels in 1950 to one and three quar-

ter million in 1979. The county ranks second in the state in the value of corn

produced.

In conclusion, we have attempted here to summarize the principle trends

and events in the agricultural history of Alachua County since the year 1900.

Such a localized perspective is interesting in itself and also valuable for

what it tells us about the region's role in the complex and rapidly evolving

worldwide process which has occurred in agriculture, as well as in all other







22

economic branches in the world economy, during this eighty year period. The

following remarks are an interpretation of the previous historical information

that recognizes the fact that modern local history necessarily reflects forces

that are far removed in space and time.

The people of Alachua County in 1900 were an agriculturally based popula-

tion divided between a rural self-sufficient peasantry or yeoman class and a

supportive urban community of shopkeepers, millers, processors of forest products,

wagon-makers, lumbermen and the like. Links with the rapidly expanding economy

to the north were relatively tenuous. The area was only recently the southern

frontier, and elements of primitive accumulation remained, particularly in the

forest products industry. In agriculture, about one third of the farmers were

tenants in both cash and share arrangements. (This compares to 60 to 80 per

cent tenancy in the cotton belt to the north.) By the time of the First World

War the number of farms were declining and a trend toward greater differentiation

had begun. This process displayed a strong racial bias, with many black farmers

losing their land to taxes. The Second World War further accelerated this

trend, and by 1950 the area was no longer marginal in any significant respect

to capital accumulation. The rather diverse nature of agriculture in the county

did not lend itself, however, to the specialization required by large capital-

intensive enterprises. Thus the ultimate decline of the importance of agricul-

ture locally may be said to be a function in some respects of the full integra-

tion of the region into the mainstream of commercial capital.

This history provides a background against which current agricultural

systems may be viewed. Many of today's farmers lived through these earlier

decades. Their skills, beliefs, and patterns have been shaped through their

experience, and their farming systems reflect the effects of historical forces

and trends as well as the strongly individualistic qualities of the farmers.









CHAPTER THREE

PRODUCTION AND FARMERS IN 1980

The data on 1980 agriculture comes primarily from a survey conducted in

June and July. A random sample of 91 owners and/or operators of agriculturally

assessed land was studied (see Appendix B for a detailed explanation of the sur-

vey methodology). Briefly, what we did was administer a questionnaire to each

of the 91 people that asked about the crops, livestock, gardens, acreage, in-

come (cash and food), use of inputs, marketing outlets, and contact with exten-

sion (a copy of the questionnaire is in Appendix B). The questions referred to

the total economic unit of land and land-based activities.

There are many practical advantages to this procedure, but there is also

a significant disadvantage. Since the sample is from a list of landowners,

someone who owns many parcels has a much greater chance of being selected than

a person who owns only one. The bias toward owners has been minimized by inter-

viewing operators, but the bias toward multiple-parcel owners remains. Smaller

farmers will be under-represented in the sample, and larger farmers who control

many parcels (by ownership or lease) over-represented. This sample should be

fairly representative in other ways, however, of the types and frequencies of

farming systems in the county.

1. Non-Farm Units in the Sample (15 of 91):

Eighty-five of the 91 land units are productive agriculturally, that is,

they produce animals and/or crops, and often trees (Table III). The other six

(ranging in size from 16 to 66 acres) are non-productive, generally overgrown

pasture or mixed brush. Four of these are up for sale, one as house lots. A

different situation is the farmer who is now too old and sick to continue farm-

ing, so the land remains idle. The final case concerns heir's property (land
23









CHAPTER THREE

PRODUCTION AND FARMERS IN 1980

The data on 1980 agriculture comes primarily from a survey conducted in

June and July. A random sample of 91 owners and/or operators of agriculturally

assessed land was studied (see Appendix B for a detailed explanation of the sur-

vey methodology). Briefly, what we did was administer a questionnaire to each

of the 91 people that asked about the crops, livestock, gardens, acreage, in-

come (cash and food), use of inputs, marketing outlets, and contact with exten-

sion (a copy of the questionnaire is in Appendix B). The questions referred to

the total economic unit of land and land-based activities.

There are many practical advantages to this procedure, but there is also

a significant disadvantage. Since the sample is from a list of landowners,

someone who owns many parcels has a much greater chance of being selected than

a person who owns only one. The bias toward owners has been minimized by inter-

viewing operators, but the bias toward multiple-parcel owners remains. Smaller

farmers will be under-represented in the sample, and larger farmers who control

many parcels (by ownership or lease) over-represented. This sample should be

fairly representative in other ways, however, of the types and frequencies of

farming systems in the county.

1. Non-Farm Units in the Sample (15 of 91):

Eighty-five of the 91 land units are productive agriculturally, that is,

they produce animals and/or crops, and often trees (Table III). The other six

(ranging in size from 16 to 66 acres) are non-productive, generally overgrown

pasture or mixed brush. Four of these are up for sale, one as house lots. A

different situation is the farmer who is now too old and sick to continue farm-

ing, so the land remains idle. The final case concerns heir's property (land
23









24
without clear title because the owner died without a will) that is not in use.

These six cases are not relevant to this study of active farming systems, al-

though their presence does illustrate that 7% of the sample units of agricultural-

ly assessed land are not in production.


TABLE III

FARMS AS PROPORTION OF UNITS SURVEYED


Number Percentage
Agriculturally Productive Farms 76 83%
Productive Timber Units 9 10%
Non-productive Units 6 7%

Total 91 100%

Of the remaining 85 units, nine are totally devoted to timber, planted

pine and/or unplanted woods, and another 41 have some timber in addition to ani-

mals and/or crops. This shows the popularity of timber in the county, particu-

larly in light of the fact that another 16 cases (all with very large acreage)

had been omitted earlier from the random sample because they were large corpor-

ate timber holdings (see Appendix B). Of the nine remaining cases in the sample

that were later found to be totally in timber, three are small in acreage (50 to

69 acres) and six are large (ranging from 250 up to 917 acres). None of the

owners lives on the units. (Three of the owners are absentee, living elsewhere

in Florida.) Of the four owners whose occupations are known, three are physic-

ians or dentists, and one unit is in trusteeship. All these owners have chosen

a long-term, non-farming, investment option that requires minimal management,

but is inappropriate for people who need more immediate cash returns or who use

their land to supply part of their food requirements.







25

2. Farm Location, Size, and Commodities:

The remaining 76 farms and farmers (Table III) are the focus of this sec-

.tion and the basis for our conclusions about county farming systems. (Hereafter,

percentages refer to the 76 unless otherwise specified.) The farms are scattered

around the county with concentrations in the High Springs, Archer, Newberry, and

Hawthorne areas (Map II). Fifty-seven (75%) are in the western half of the coun-

ty, suggesting that agriculture is concentrated there and timber in the eastern

half. The 76 farms all produce livestock and/or crops, and 41 (54%) of them

also have timber as part of the unit, often in the form of woods that have never

been cleared for pasture or fields.

Farm sizes range from eight to 3200 acres (Table IV). These statistics

include all land, owned and leased, that is part of the total economic and manage-

ment unit, so wooded acres are included even though they are not presently being

used for crops or pasture. To show the range, farms with 100 acres or less are


TABLE IV

FREQUENCY OF FARMS BY ACREAGE
Number
of Farms Percentage

Very small (550 acres) 21 28%
Small (51-100 acres) 11 14%
Sub-total 32 42%
Intermediate (101-200 acres) 9 12%
Large (201-500 acres) 16 21%
Very large (7500 acres) 19 25%
TOTAL 76 100%


divided here into small (51 through 100 acres) and very small (50 acres andbe-

low). Of the 76, 21 (28%) are very small, and another 11 (14%) are small.
















MAP II
DISTRIBUTION OF SURVEYED FARMS IN COUNTY
(N = 76) (in percentages)


RANGE
I 17 I 18 I 19 I


1%


5%


5%


20 I 21 I 22 I


11% 5% 3% 3%
4%




3% 1% 3% 3% 1%





11% 4% 3% 1% 8%


1%


1%


31% 18% 5% 5%


ROW
TOTAL

5%





12%


26%





11%





27%


COLUMN
TOTAL


-


27%


14% 100%










27

There are nine (12%) intermediate in size (101 through 200 acres), 16 (21%) large

(201 through 500 acres), and 19 (25%) very large (more than 500 acres). Thus,

farms are spread across all size categories with concentrations at both extremes,

and 42% have 100 acres or less (combining small and very small categories), un-

doubtedly an under-count since the 1974 agricultural census showed 50% of county

farms to be smaller than 100 acres. The discrepancy is probably explained by

the bias in our sampling technique in favor of larger, multi-parcel owners (ex-

plained at the beginning of this chapter).

In all, county farmers produce 45 different commodities, not counting tim-

ber or garden crops (Table V). This includes 28 crops for sale and home consump-

tion (plus various pasture grasses for grazing their own livestock) and 17 types

of animals and animal products (honey, milk products, and eggs). Only 13 farmers

(17%) do not raise some type of livestock, whereas 37 (49%) do not grow any ag-

ronomic or horticultural field crop.

Of all commodities, the most popular is beef cattle that is an element

in 54 farms (71% of sample). Six of these farmers indicate they raise purebreds

for sale as breeding stock, but the great majority raise only mixed breeds for

slaughter. This is a significant difference because a small number of purebred

cattle represents much more of an investment than the same number of mixed

breed. Other than beef cattle, 17% of the farms raise hogs; 11% have goats; and

16% chickens. Smaller percentages (less than 5% each) raise dairy cattle, rab-

bits, various types of poultry, bees, and dogs for sale, or they market honey

and eggs. Although 22% of farms keep horses, all but one appear to be for recre-

ational purposes rather than business. Some of the poultry also seem to be

pets but that is unclear.

Agronomic and/or horticultural field crops (including hay and cover crops)

are only grown by slightly more than half of the sample (39 farms or 51%). But










28

TABLE V

FREQUENCY OF VARIOUS COMMODITIES ON COUNTY FARMS

Number
of Farms Percentage

Beef Cattle 54 71%

Purebred cattle 6 7%
Mixed cattle 48 64%
Hogs 13 17%
Goats 8 11%
Chickens 12 16%
Horses 17 22%

SUB-TOTAL: LIVESTOCK 63 83%

Field corn 25 33%
Soybeans 16 21%
Pecans 14 18%
Tobacco 13 17%
Watermelon 9 12%
Peanuts 8 11%

SUB-TOTAL: AGRONOMIC AND
HORTICULTURAL 39 51%


75% grow some kind of crop for sale and/or home consumption, whether it is a

field or tree (nuts and fruits) crop or berries, grapes, or ornamentals. Field

corn is grown on 25 farms (33%); about half of it is not sold but retained for

cattle feed. After field corn, the most popular crop is soybeans (21%), follow-

ed by pecans (18%), tobacco (17%), watermelons (12%), and peanuts (11%). Cucum-

bers, squash, peppers, hay, and apples are each grown by 5% (4 farmers). Fewer

than 5% of the farmers grow the other field crops (string beans, southern peas,

green beans, cantaloupe, grain sorghum, winter rye, millet, bahia for seed, and

sod), the other tree crops (peaches, pears, plums, figs, and hickory nuts), and









the blueberries, grapes, and flowers.

3. Production Categories:

To order the array of commodities they are grouped into five enterprise

categories based on technical differences among commodities as well as socio-

economic differences among farmers. These enterprises do not count animals

raised or kept for pets. The five include three kinds of crop enterprises:

1. agronomic which includes field corn, soybeans, hay, and cover
crops

2. horticultural which includes all vegetables and tobacco

3. specialty which includes nuts, fruits, berries, and ornamentals

and two kinds of animal enterprises:

1. beef including feeder calves

2. non-beef livestock including hogs, goats, poultry, bees, etc.

One of our basic assumptions is that the distribution of these enter-

prises and the relative importance of each is a consequence of definite choices

by individual farmers in the evolution of their farming systems. Understanding

the pattern and rationale of enterprise choice are major tasks of the present

study. In examining the distribution of enterprises, the research team decided

to separate farms into three major production categories: livestock-centered,

crop-centered, and mixed (balanced). Within each of these categories there are

sub-divisions based on enterprises.

A livestock-centered farm is one that concentrates on livestock produc-

tion, even if some crops are produced also. This is the most popular category

(33 farms or 43% of the sample). Very few livestock-centered farmers grow any

crops other than improved pasture grass and, sometimes, a winter feed and cover

crop such as winter rye, grain sorghum, or millet. Two do grow field corn which

is entirely consumed by their own cattle; five have pecan trees; and one grows








30

TABLE VI

FARM PRODUCTION CATEGORIES

Percentage
Number Percentage of Total Farms

Livestock-Centered

Beef 26 79%
Non-beef 7 21%

33 100% 43%

Crop-Centered

Specialty 6 40%
Horticultural 3 20%
Agronomic 2 13%
Horticultural and
Agronomic 4 27%

15 100% 20%

Mixed

Tobacco 12 44%
No Tobacco 15 56%

27 100% 35%

100%





sod. Beef cattle are the dominant livestock on 26 (79%) of the 33 farms and

a minor element on another two, but seven farmers (21%) have made the decision

to concentrate on animals other than beef. Because of that, the category has

been divided into two sub-categories, beef and non-beef (Table VI).

A crop-centered farm is one that concentrates on crop production, even








31

if some livestock are raised also. This is the least popular category (15

farms or 20% of the sample). Only three raise any livestock (20 cattle on one,

while the other two raise a few strictly for home consumption). The type of

crop enterprise favored by the farmer is the basis for dividing this category

into four sub-categories. Three farmers grow only horticultural crops; two grow

only agronomic crops; four grow both horticultural and agronomic crops; and six

grow only special crops.

A mixed farm is one in which both crop and livestock production are im-

portant with neither really predominating. Twenty-seven farms (35% of the sam-

ple) are in this category, though three small ones are borderline with livestock-

centered (two cases whose only crop is hay, some of which is sold) or crop-cen-

tered (one case). Almost all (89%) of the mixed farms raise cattle, and 78% grow

field corn and/or soybeans--only one farm has none of these three commodities.

Within the category there appear to be significant differences between the 12

farmers (44%) who grow tobacco and the 15 (56%) who do not, so two sub-categories

are created, based on the presence or absence of tobacco cultivation.

Aside from the choice of specific enterprises, farms also vary in their

complexity, that is, the number of different enterprises that each farmer inte-

grates into a single management system. In terms of on-farm enterprises, farms

in this study may vary from one to five. Some farms are very simple and have

only one enterprise, sometimes in fact producing only one commodity, such as the

farmer who raises only beef cattle or grows only watermelons. Other farms are

more complex, combining more than one enterprise. For instance, some farmers

produce beef cattle and field corn, and others grow field corn, soybeans, and

bell peppers agronomicc and horticultural crops). The most complex farms combine

all five enterprises, sometimes with more than one commodity in an enterprise.








32

An example is the farm with cattle, hogs, field corn, soybeans, watermelons, and

cantaloupes.

4. Farmer Categories:

A farming system is more than a production category, although production

of agricultural commodities is the major expression of the working system and

the major dependent variable in this analysis. A farming system is farmer-cen-

tered, integrated by the decisions a farmer and farm family make. Similarities

and differences among farmers underlie the general features and variations in

production. The major differences among farmers that are examined in this re-

port concern the commitment of capital resources and time to agriculture, the

dependence upon it, and the motivation and priorities expressed by the farmer.

In general, farming in Alachua County is a man's occupation (70 of the

76 farmers are men), and men provide most of the management and labor inputs

(Table VII). (Gardening is not considered here.) Most men are married, and

60% are 50 years of age or older.


TABLE VII

SEX OF FARM OPERATORS

Male 70 92%
Female 6 8%

76 100%


This male domination in agriculture may be over-emphasized since six of

the farmers are women. The husband and wife team (or a larger family unit) may

well be the primary decision-making unit in many households, and in at least one

of our cases the wife is the farmer. (Dr. Masuma Downie is now conducting a

study of the role of women in agriculture in the county.) Our interest is in

choices farmers make, so the term "farmer" in this report means the decision-









33

making unit for the farm, whether that be a man, a woman, a couple, or a larger

family unit.

Unlike the farmers surveyed by Doughty, et. al. (1980), the majority of

farmers we interviewed are in contact with the extension office. This difference

may be partially explained by the difference in sample selection. Our sample is

biased toward larger farmers, whereas Doughty, et. al. only interviewed smaller

farmers and gardeners. Even our low resource farmers, however, are in contact

with extension: 67% had visited the extension office, and 35% had been visited

by an extension agent.

Farming supplements the total income for most families in our survey.

Half of the farmers work off the farm at another job, as do half of the wives,

and about 40% of the farmers have other outside income, usually in the form of

pension or social security payments. Aside from cash income, most farm families

also produce some of their own meat and non-meat food supplies, the latter

usually from gardens that are about an acre in size.

Almost a third of the farmers interviewed are not interested in making

more money from their farm. They are interested in stability or are reducing

their involvement in agriculture. The majority of farmers own 90% or more of

the land they do farm, do not lease out any land, use insecticides and/or herbi-

cides, and hire labor, especially at harvest time.

Capital resources: The two most common ways to define small or low re-

source farmers are using acreage and annual sales of agricultural produce

(Edmond 1980; Horne 1979; Lewis 1976). A sales statistic is generally preferred

by economists, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses $20,000 annual sales

as the division between small and large, while at least $1,000 in annual sales

is needed in order to qualify as a farm. Between the 1959 and 1974 agricultural

censuses, a farm was defined as any place that (1) annually sold at least $250








34

of agricultural products that it produced, (2) was ten or more acres and annual-

ly sold at least $50 in agricultural products that it produced, or (3) could

reasonably be expected to produce and sell enough to meet the above criteria,

but had failed to do so for some reason. The 1974 census introduced the new

minimum of $1000 annual sales (no acreage qualification) because of the reduced

number of farms selling less than that amount.

Unfortunately, while sales and income statistics may be readily available

in census and tax records (secondary aggregate data), that information is dif-

ficult to collect firsthand from many farmers (Lola Smith, personal communica-

tion). For this practical reason concerning data collection, acreage is often

used as the operational variable. We encountered considerable reluctance from

many Alachua County farmers to reveal their annual sales figures, so income and

sales data are not very reliable, and acreage and herd size are used in this re-

port.

This means that farmers are classed as low resource or high resource com-

mitment to agriculture on the basis of their total acreage or (in the case of

beef-centered farms) herd size. Therefore, in this report small equals low re-

source, an appropriate equation in the restricted context of Alachua County ag-

riculture where only one case (greenhouses for ornamentals) is encountered that

is really intensive in terms of capital to acreage. The equation of acreage

and low capital commitment, however, must be evaluated anew for each new environ-

ment.

This classification does not mean that all low resource farmers have lit-

tle capital, only that little capital is now committed (see Chapter five). In

fact, of course, the poorer farm families end up classed as low resource, as do

wealthier people who have chosen to commit only a fraction of their capital to

farming. In this analysis low resource farmers are those with 100 acres or less








35

or (if beef-centered) fewer than 50 head of cattle (fewer if purebred breeding

stock). Note that there is no minimum requirement by these criteria, so we in-

clude people who might be dismissed as gardeners by other studies.

No farmer in our sample owns between 51 and 100 head of cattle, so the

50 head limit is inductively derived. One hundred acres is an arbitrary water-

shed. Although there is little apparent different between, on the one hand,

farmers with 100 acres and less and, on the other hand, those with more than

100 acres but less than 200, we chose 100 or less to highlight the small scale

of so many farmers.

In all there are 41 low resource cases in our sample (54% of all farmers),

9 of whom are included because they are beef-centered with small herds, even

though each has more than 100 acres (Table VIII). Map III shows the distribu-

tion of these low resource farmers in the county.

Time and Energy: Farmers are categorized as full-time or part-time com-

mitment to farming on the basis of their off-farm employment or business acti-

vity. Most of the 41 part-time farmers (54% of all farmers) have a full-time

off-farm job (Table IX). There has been no attempt here to rigorously classify

off-farm enterprises, only to recognize the fact that off-farm work lessens the

amount of time and attention that can be committed to the farm.

Other factors that also affect commitment of time and energy are age,

retirement status, health, and sex. Only 22% of farmers are under 40 years of

age, whereas 35% are 60 or older (with 15% of all farmers in their 70s or 80s).

Twenty-seven percent of farmers are drawing pensions or social security, and

several are in ill-health. Although most farmers are men, six are women. Only

one is still married, and she is a full-time low resource farmer while her hus-

band has a full-time off-farm job. The other five women are divorced or















MAP III
DISTRIBUTION OF SURVEYED LOW RESOURCE FARMS IN COUNTY
(N = 41) (in percentages: only 96% due to rounding)


RANGE
I 17 I 18 I 19 I


20 I 21 I 22 I


ROW
TOTAL

0%




7%





24%





11%





29%





23%





2%


29% 16% 4% 7%


12


COLUMN
TOTAL


_


21%


19% 96%









37
TABLE VIII

CAPITAL RESOURCES COMMITTED TO FARMING

Number -Percentage

Low Resource 41 54%
High Resource 35 46%

76 100%


widowed, and usually they are getting out of farming. These factors of advanced

age, retirement, ill-health, and sex are used to supplement the full-time and

part-time distinction.


TABLE IX

TIME AND ENERGY COMMITMENTS TO AGRICULTURE

Number Percentage
Time

Full-time farmers 35 46%
Part-time farmers 41 54%

Age and Retirement

Under 40 years 22%
40-59 years of age 43%
60 or older 35%

Pensions or social
security 27%


Priorities, dependence and motivation: Farmers are classified along

another two dimensions that express their priorities, motivation, and dependence

upon agriculture. One dimension measures farmer priorities by their orientation

toward providing self-subsistence and/or cash income. A third priority might

be a long-term investment, but this is not analyzed here. These three are not









38
mutually exclusive, and many farmers exhibit an interest in all, but many pro-

duction decisions express the preponderance of one priority or another. For

instance, choosing to keep land totally in timber expresses an exclusive inter-

est in long-term investment. The owner of that land is not at all dependent on

agriculture for self-subsistence or immediate cash income.

Thirty-eight farmers (50%) are classified as seeking both income and

subsistence from farming; 15 (20%) as solely income; 19 (25%) as only subsis-

tence; while four (5%) reported receiving neither subsistence nor income from

their farm. The prevalence of gardens and small number of livestock expresses

a general interest in self-subsistence.

Almost 70% of the people reported they supplied some of their own meat

from livestock, hunting, and/or fishing, and almost that many reported the same

thing for non-meat foodstuffs from farm and garden.

Seventy percent also reported receiving some income from their farm. Far-

mer dependence on agriculture is related to off-farm work. Not only does off-

farm work mean that time and energy are committed elsewhere, but the farmer or

farm family has other income that reduces the dependence on agriculture for in-

come and livelihood (Table X). Other means of reducing dependence include pen-

sions and social security and the working spouse: most farmers (83%) are mar-

ried, and 32 wives have off-farm employment, as does the husband of the married

woman who is a full-time low resource farmer.

The other dimension classifies farmer motivation toward farm growth,

stability, or decline (Table XI). This adds time depth to our analysis since

these mutually exclusive classes express the direction in which the farmer has

been, and will be, leading the farm. Three factors are analyzed to determine

each farmer's orientation. One is the response when asked if he or she wants








39

TABLE X

DEPENDENCE AND PRIORITIES OF COUNTY FARMERS IN AGRICULTURE

Number :Percentage


Off-Farm Income

Farmers Working
Off-farm
Spouses Working
Off-farm

Pension or Social
Security


Orientation Toward Cash Income

Farm Families Receiving
Both
Subsistence Only
Cash Income Only


54%

52% (of married
farmers)

27%


and/or Food Subsistence


50%
25%
20%


to make more money from the farm (68% said yes). Another is the annual trend

in farm production, planting more or less than before and increasing or decreas-

ing herd size. The third is a composite of clues from the farmer's conversa-

tion about whether he or she wants to retire from farming, sell the land, stop

TABLE XI

FARMER ORIENTATION TOWARD CHANGE


Growth-oriented
Stability-oriented
Decline-oriented


Number Percentage

40 53%
24 32%
12 16%


working so hard, etc.








40
Forty farmers (53%) are classed as growth-oriented. This includes several

who are very cautious about a worsening of their tax situation as a consequence

of increased farm income. Another 24 farmers (32%) are interested in stability,

neither increasing nor decreasing their inputs and outputs. However, this is

to some extent a residual class since people who are neither obviously growth-

oriented nor obviously getting out are classed as stable.

Finally, 12 farmers (16%) are diminishing their involvement in agricul-

ture. Ten of these are older people who are cutting back for reasons of age,

health, or loss of the husband through death or divorce. Only two are cutting

back on farming because of increasing their off-farm employment activities.








CHAPTER FOUR

FARMING SYSTEMS

1. Defining the Farming Systems:

All of the production and farmer characteristics outlined in Chapter

three are used in this report to describe and classify farming systems and recom-

mendation domains. The two concepts are similar but not identical. Farming sys-

tem is an inclusive concept based on the agricultural production of individual

farms. Its inclusiveness is a key feature that demands that research and exten-

sion personnel take heed of a wide variety of physical, biological, and social

elements and forces that interact (are a system).

Norman's (1974) simple definition of a farming system--"the pattern of

resources and processes of resource use in a farming unit"--was presented on

page one of the report to orient the reader, but the inclusiveness that is only

implicit in that definition is more manifest below. The following is a compos-

ite of the definition presented in the report on farming systems research in

the international agricultural research centers (TAC 1978) and the definition

agreed upon in a University of Florida workshop (UF Workshop 1978).

A farming system is not simply a collection of crops and/or animals to

which one can apply an input and expect immediate results. A farming system

is a complicated interwoven mesh of resources and factors agronomicc, economic,

social, cultural, physical, etc.) which are managed to a greater or lesser ex-

tent by a farmer. Utilizing the technology known to the farmer, this person

or family unit attempts to increase or maximize the farmer's or farm household's

utility within a given context of accepted preferences, aspirations, and socio-

economic conditions. The farmer's unique understanding and interpretation of

the immediate environment, both natural and socioeconomic, is instrumental in

creating the farming system.








CHAPTER FOUR

FARMING SYSTEMS

1. Defining the Farming Systems:

All of the production and farmer characteristics outlined in Chapter

three are used in this report to describe and classify farming systems and recom-

mendation domains. The two concepts are similar but not identical. Farming sys-

tem is an inclusive concept based on the agricultural production of individual

farms. Its inclusiveness is a key feature that demands that research and exten-

sion personnel take heed of a wide variety of physical, biological, and social

elements and forces that interact (are a system).

Norman's (1974) simple definition of a farming system--"the pattern of

resources and processes of resource use in a farming unit"--was presented on

page one of the report to orient the reader, but the inclusiveness that is only

implicit in that definition is more manifest below. The following is a compos-

ite of the definition presented in the report on farming systems research in

the international agricultural research centers (TAC 1978) and the definition

agreed upon in a University of Florida workshop (UF Workshop 1978).

A farming system is not simply a collection of crops and/or animals to

which one can apply an input and expect immediate results. A farming system

is a complicated interwoven mesh of resources and factors agronomicc, economic,

social, cultural, physical, etc.) which are managed to a greater or lesser ex-

tent by a farmer. Utilizing the technology known to the farmer, this person

or family unit attempts to increase or maximize the farmer's or farm household's

utility within a given context of accepted preferences, aspirations, and socio-

economic conditions. The farmer's unique understanding and interpretation of

the immediate environment, both natural and socioeconomic, is instrumental in

creating the farming system.








42
The preceding description explicitly details the variety of factors to

be included in a farming system. This ensures that all of the technical and

human elements are considered, a useful precaution in view of the common tendency

to narrowly focus on a single crop, animal, or other element (diseases, machinery,

etc.). The difference between more traditional research and extension approaches

and the farming systems approach is clearly illustrated in Figure II, which is

adapted by van Blokland (UF Multidisciplinary Team Report 1980) from a diagram

used by the Tropical Agricultural Center for Research and Teaching (CATIE),

Costa Rica.

The farming systems approach works with farm and non-farm factors that

influence production of crops and/or livestock. This production is the focus,

and influencing production technology is the goal, but (crop and/or livestock)

production per se is not all there is in a farming system. The inclusiveness

of the concept is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is advantageous in

that it forces research and extension to consider the same complexity of inter-

action (interdependent costs and benefits) with which the farmer deals. Farm-

ing systems research must encompass and comprehend the "mesh of resources and

factors" that the farmer has to manage.

Much of the discrepancy between the farmer's technological choices and

those advocated by research and extension workers may well be due to the dif-

ference between the "real world" environment of the farmer and the controlled

research plot environment where many variables are held constant and others are

assumed to be equal (irrelevant). Local environments are neither standard nor

equal, and farmers must adapt and manage, "fostering the subtle natural inter-

actions" (McClung in Harwood 1978) of their blends of enterprises and technolo-

gy within unique local environments.








43
At the same time, farmer goals and priorities extend beyond crop and/or

animal production, and farmer behavior and decisions reflect this broader in-

terest. The farming systems approach helps research and extension personnel to

appreciate this complexity so that their work and recommendations are more ap-

plicable and understandable to farmers.

However, the same inclusiveness that is a major advantage may be a dis-

advantage. Farming systems research is relatively new, although it derives

from earlier work in farm management and ecology. There is a conceptual center

(agricultural production) but no exact boundaries separating the farming system

from other systems, and at present it is still easier to see why additional fac-

tors should be included rather than excluded.

Counteracting any trend toward greater inclusiveness are practical cost-

benefit dilemmas about the utility of including more or fewer factors as vari-

ables rather than environmental parameters. In practice these issues are handled

by dealing with farming systems"in the small" (TAC 1978), that is, subsystems

FIGURE i:


TRADITIONAL AND FARMING SYSTEMS APPROACHES

Individual Individual Individual Individual
Specialties Field Livestock IVegetables I


TRADITIONAL APPROACHES








44
are the actual units that are investigated (Gilbert,et. al. 1980). Often the

practical effect is to negate the total system and expand the single commodity

focus to include two interdependent commodities or some socioeconomic informa-

tion. At best, however, the concept of a farming system is a paradigm that over-

arches all the subsystem work and serves to unite and integrate that work.

In this study of Alachua County, for example, specific studies were car-

ried out on squash and watermelon production and the raising of beef cattle.

These commodity studies were an extension of this general farming systems sur-

vey. Therefore, although each of the other studies concerns itself with only

one commodity and the existing variation in production technology of that single

element, an awareness of the whole system pervades each report and is instrumen-

tal in explaining each situation.

2. Farming Systems and Recommendation Domains:

The first step in farming systems research is descriptive and diagnostic.

It has several goals: (1) One is to identify and understand the existing local

farming systems, that is, identify significant natural interactions, sort out

their distribution, and match them with farmers (Harwood 1979). (2) A second

goal is to identify recommendation domains. A recommendation domain is a set

of farmers and farms that is homogeneous enough (the individual farming systems

are similar enough) so that research and extension personnel may focus on that

set of systems and produce recommendations for alternative technology that will

be applicable to all (or almost all) within that set (CIMMYT 1979). (3) Third,

the first step in research seeks to identify situations in which existing farm

resources are inefficiently used (Harwood 1979). These situations are then

the basis for recommendations (or research to produce recommendations) to the

various domains.








45

In Alachua County research, the concept of a recommendation domain is

equally as important as the concept of a farming system. Although the latter

instructs the researcher to examine a wide range of factors that influence agri-

cultural production, integrate these around farmer decision-making, and then

class individual systems into larger categories--the system concept does not of-

fer much assistance in determining how general or how specific should be the

categories. Is livestock-centered a farming system? Or are hog-centered,

goat-centered, and beef-centered all systems?

Recommendation domains come into perspective at this point. The researcher

must select a domain of farmers large enough to warrant attention and yet homo-

geneous enough to respond to subsystem research and extension. These practical

considerations guide our classification of Alachua County farmers into nine far-

ming systems, eight of which serve as recommendation domains.

The effectiveness of any identification of recommendation domains depends

on (1) how well the factors responsible for variation among groups are isolated

and (2) adopting a classification method that emphasizes relative influence

(CIMMYT 1979). Our classification refers to both production associations and

farmer characteristics as significant factors. A recommendation domain in this

report is a synthesis of:

(1) a crop and/or livestock association,

(2) farmer commitments of time and capital, and

(3) farmer priorities and motivation.

Thus, each domain is defined in terms of both technical and socioeconomic fac-

tors.

Furthermore, in terms of relative influence, a major hypothesis in our

analysis is that the production association is a function of farmer commitments,







46
priorities, and motivation. No matter what changes occur in technical and in-

stitutional conditions, some of which are documented for the county in the his-

torical section, farmers and farm households still must make choices among al-

ternatives. Those people who choose to remain in farming, or enter it from a

town or city, make decisions about which association of enterprises is most ap-

propriate for their resources and desires.

Our hypothesis assumes that (1) each enterprise or association of enter-

prises has certain features that make it more appropriate for farmers with cer-

tain characteristics; (2) people are aware of the differential appropriateness

of various enterprises and associations; (3) people choose what is most appro-

priate for them; and (4) that the four farmer characteristics mentioned above

(commitment of time and capital, priorities, and motivation) are sufficient to

distinguish the basis for choosing among alternatives.

The hypothesis predicts that similar farmers will all choose the same

production strategy or cluster around a few strategies. The hypothesis is dis-

proven if this clustering does not occur. On the other hand, dissimilar farmers

may cluster around the same strategy. If this occurs, we assume that there are

some similarities among these supposedly dissimilar people and/or some signifi-

cant differences within the supposedly homogeneous production association.

The reasoning behind the hypothesis seems to be substantiated, on the

whole, by the data. There are major differences between low and high resource

resource farmers in where they cluster. When there is an overlap (with the ex-

ception of mixed without tobacco) it is generally attributable to similar re-

quirements (low management for livestock) or differences among enterprises

(crops are divisible into horticultural, agronomic, and specialty).

Table XII summarizes in tabular form the farming systems/recommendation

domains we have identified for Alachua County. The column on the left





TABLE XII
FARMING SYSTEMS AND RECOMMENDATION DOMAINS FOR ALACHUA COUNTY FARMERS


Capital
Commitment


Time
Commitment


Motivation


Priorities
Subsis-


PERCENT-


Low High Full Part Growth Stable Decline Income Both tence Neither NUMBER AGE

High Resource
Beef-Centered 0 8 3 5 5 0 3 2 6 0 0 8 11%

Low Resource
Beef-Centered 19 0 5 14 4 9 6 .1 5 11 2 19 25%
Non-Beef Live-
stock-Centered 7 0 3 4 3 3 1 1 1 4 1 7 9%
Agronomic-
Centered 0 2 2 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 3%
Horticultural-
Centered 3 0 1 2 0 2 1 0 2 1 0 3 4%
Horticultural
and Agronomic-
Centered 0 4 4 0 4 0 0 0 4 0 0 4 5%
Specialty-
Centered 6 0 2 4 3 3 0 2 1 2 1 6 8%
Mixed
Tobacco 1 11 9 3, 9 3 0 1 11 0 0 12 16%
Mixed
No Tobacco 5 10 6 9 10 4 1 6 8 1 0 15 20%


TOTAL NUMBER


41 35 35 41 40 24


15 38 19


53% 32% 16% 20% 50% 25%


Farming
System


PERCENTAGE 54% 46% 46% 54%


5% 100% 100%










48
identifies the nine systems. Note that the production sub-category of beef-

centered has been further sub-divided into low and high resource in order to

create two homogeneous recommendation domains. Four of the domains are totally

low resource farmers (numbers 2, 3, 5, and 7), accounting for 85% of the low

resource people in the sample. Another four domains are high resource farmers

(numbers 1, 4, 6, and 8), accounting for 71% of the high resource category.

3. Livestock-Centered Systems:

Farm size and number of animals vary widely in this category from the

very small, minimal animal extreme (eight acres and four goats, or 31 acres and

one cow) to the very large (3200 acres and 400 cattle). This production cate-

gory contains, in fact, the cases with the smallest and largest acreages in the

whole sample. Small and very small combined are almost half (48%) of the live-

stock-centered farmers, although numbers of animals are more important in this

category than numbers of acres as an indicator of farm scale and the farmer's

economic orientation (subsistence or income). The range of acreage and herd

size does indicate that this production orientation is perceived to be appropri-

ate for people with very small as well as very large resources of land and

capital.

The category has been broken down into beef and non-beef sub-categories.

Beef-centered has been further sub-divided into those with high resource commit-

ments to the enterprise (more than 100 head of cattle) and those with low (50

head or fewer). (No farmer in our random sample controls between 50 and 100

head.)

A. High Resource Beef-Centered System (eight cases): High resource

farmers raising beef cattle as their major or only commodity are either part-

time farmers with off-farm jobs or are full-time farmers who run an operation








49

that has been reduced from a once larger, more complex system. This low-labor,

low-management enterprise is nearly always a cow/calf operation, with few or no

purebred animals other than bulls. Forage crops such as winter rye and hay are

generally grown, with occasional tree crops such as pecans. Agronomic or hor-

ticultural crops and livestock other than beef cattle are rare. The most common

ratio of cattle to acres of pasture is around 1:2.5.

Most part-time farmers in this category get most of their beef subsis-

tence from their farms, while the full-time farmers satisfy at least some of

their meat and non-meat subsistence needs. The farming system rarely provides

farm households with their total cash income. In fact, these operations often

do not generate much taxable cash income at all, since the income is sheltered

by operating expenses and depreciation for tax purposes. Growth rather than de-

cline is more common.

B. Low Resource Beef-Centered System (nineteen cases): No low resource

farmer focusing on beef cattle relies on the farming system as the only source

of income. Part-time farmers in this category have off-farm employment, and

full-time farmers are elderly, retired, or in failing health. Although the cash

income generated from this farming system tends to be low and is usually put

back into the system, meat and non-meat subsistence activities are generally

present and in some cases are extensive. Labor is rarely hired for work deal-

ing directly with the cattle, although occasional hiring for maintenance is

common. Purebred cattle are rare. Those farmers who sell cattle sell only

the calves.

It is more common among these low resource farmers than among high re-

source ones to raise additional livestock other than beef, most notably chickens.

Like high resource beef farmers, however, low resource ones do not combine








50

beef cattle with agronomic crops and only occasionally with tree crops. A

stable or declining orientation generally characterizes those farmers whose op-

erations are the least complex and provide the smallest amounts of subsistence,

while a growth orientation is more characteristic among those farmers who run

the more complex systems and produce more of their own subsistence.

The following cases are composites of features of various low resource

farmers who were interviewed. Each composite case represents the general con-

ditions and characteristics of that type of farmer, but none portray any specific

individual or family from the survey. Personal and family names are fictitious.

Case #1: Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Hoyts own 89 acres and lease
35 for a herd of 40 beef cattle, 6 chickens, and a one acre gar-
den. Fifty of their own acres and the 35 that are leased are
planted in bahia grass, all of which is consumed by the cattle.
Thirty seven more acres are devoted to growing unimproved tim-
ber. Mr. Hoyt characterized their garden by saying, "You name
it; we got it," and went on to report growing okra, peas,
squash, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, and peppers. Half of their
non-meat self-sufficiency comes from the garden, and although
they slaughter none of their livestock for home consumption,
they supply around five percent of their annual meat needs from
hunting and fishing.

The Hoyts run a cow-calf operation, selling the calves at
the Gainesville and Ocala livestock markets. They claim that
they usually lose money on their operation and seem to be keep-
ing the cattle primarily for tax purposes. They hire workers
to bale their hay, use no chemicals on their fields, own little
farm machinery, and their only contact with the county exten-
sion people consists of phoning the office. Mr. Hoyt works
full-time off the farm. Mrs. Hoyt holds a part-time, seasonal
job.

C. Non-Beef Livestock-Centered System (seven cases): Farms in Alachua

County that focus on non-beef livestock as the major commodity or subsistence

items are operated by low resource farmers for supplemental income or subsis-

tence. These farmers are part-time or, if full-time, are individuals who can-

not work off the farm due to age or ill health. In no case is the farm the

only or the primary source of cash income, all farmers having either some








51

off-farm employment or receiving social security. Instead, the farm provides

the household with a portion, often a major portion, of its food supply.

The major reasons given for operating farms of this nature are meeting

subsistence needs, qualifying for agricultural assessment, or (in three cases)

gradually phasing back on once larger farming operations. Hogs or goats are

the most prevalent livestock varieties, with one individual raising rabbits for

the sale of meat. Gardening also plays an important role.

Case #2: There are few farming operations more complex than
that run by Mr. and Mrs. George Crawford, an elderly couple whose
only cash income comes from their two social security checks. On
20 acres they are able to meet almost 100% of their household food
subsistence needs. In their three acre garden, the Crawfords pro-
duce sweet corn, squash, rutabegas, peanuts, peas, okra, tomatoes,
watermelon, mustard greens, turnips, and cucumbers. Mrs. Crawford
also gathers wild blackberries and, with her neighbor's permission,
pecans from her neighbor's trees.

The remaining 17 acres are devoted to fruit trees, pasture,
and improved pine timber. The fruit trees include an apple, a
plum, a fig, and two pear trees. On their pasture graze four
dairy cattle and seventeen goats. Other livestock include eleven
chickens and twenty five pigeons. All animals and animal products
are produced for home consumption, although Mrs. Crawford occasion-
ally sells a few eggs. They never purchase meat and purchase
only 10% of their non-meat foods.

The Crawfords are growth oriented; they would like to expand
their operation to include beef cattle, rabbits, and dairy calves.
Their capital resources are limited, however, and they expressed
difficulty in meeting such basic expenses as medical and heating
bills. They have an "antique" tractor and little other machinery.
They have had no contact with the county extension office beyond
receiving flyers in the mail telling of its services. They would
like to have their soil tested, but do not think they can afford
it.

4. Crop-Centered Systems:

While the crop-centered category contains the smallest number (16) of

cases, differences among farmers within it are significant enough that it has

been broken down into four sub-categories. Three contain only one enterprise

each, while the fourth integrates two enterprises. Although each sub-category







52
is fairly homogeneous internally, there are extreme differences among several

of them. For that reason, an overall composite of this category is not very

useful, and we will proceed immediately with descriptions of each sub-category.

Each contains a small number of cases (from two to seven) from which to draw

general conclusions about Alachua County agriculture. Nevertheless, the logic

of these sub-categories and the random sampling methodology by which cases were

collected support their extension to the county as a whole.

A. Agronomic Crop-Centered System (two cases): Growing only agronomic

crops is a pursuit of high resource, full-time farmers who rely on equipment

rather than manual labor for harvesting. While some outside labor is hired for

the farm, primary labor inputs come from the owner and other permanent personnel

who have vested interests in the success of the enterprise. These are income-

oriented farmers. Subsistence activities are not significant on these farms,

nor is income from non-farm sources. These farmers are growth oriented, although

expansion takes the form of adding or experimenting with other agronomic crops

which presumably have similar equipment needs to those crops already being

grown. The farm remains with a single enterprise.

B. Horticultural Crop-Centered System (three cases): These are low re-

source farmers, elderly individuals who appear to farm as a hobby and as an

economic concern. This is a very simple system with only one commodity being

produced per farmer. The horticultural crop is grown for sale and home consump-

tion. Crop income does represent a good portion of the farm household's cash

income, but most of it comes from non-farm sources. Gardens do provide some

subsistence, although never more than half of the household's total non-meat

needs. None of these farmers raise any livestock for either home use or sale.

The farmers provide most of the labor and hire very little. While not out of









53

the question, the potential for growth of these systems seems small; they are

stable or declining, depending on the age and health of the operator.

Case #3: Eliot and Lucinda Whitman own ten acres that are
mostly hilly and wooded. Their cash crop is three and one half
acres of bell peppers. The peppers and their large garden (100
feet by 50 feet in size) take up nearly all the flat cleared
portion of the farm, and the house and yard occupy the rest.
That garden provides half of their annual non-meat food needs:
they grow sugar snap peas, green beans, beets, turnips, cabbage,
carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, radishes, brocol-
li, cauliflower, cucumbers, and yellow squash. In addition to
the peppers and garden, the Whitmans have four peach trees and
four apple trees. They own no livestock.

Mr. Whitman works full-time off the farm. Both Mr. and
Mrs. Whitman tend the farm, sharing the labor more or less
equally and hiring only one man to start their pepper plants
and transplant them. They are an elderly couple, yet do all
the harvesting and other labor themselves. The Whitmans own
a tractor as well as other farm machinery and are in contact
with the county extension office.

C. Both Agronomic and Horticultural Crop-Centered System (four cases):

People managing these systems are high resource and generally full-time experi-

enced farmers, having been raised on farms themselves. The systems are quite

often characterized by partnerships between fathers and sons or between two

full-time farmers, and the system is more complex than any other crop-centered

system since two enterprises are combined, often with more than one commodity

per enterprise. Generating high annual gross incomes, farm production is balanced

between smaller acreage in high-value, labor-intensive horticultural crops and

larger acreage in agronomic crops. Income comes totally or nearly totally from

the farm, which appears to be a growth-oriented, highly efficient business en-

terprise. While livestock is not a major commodity within these systems, most

raise livestock for home use. Gardening (or planting a few rows of garden crops

in the fields) is common and usually provides these households with about one

third of their non-meat food needs.








54
D. Specialty Crop-Centered System (six cases): Specialty crop produc-

tion in Alachua County does not generally require large labor, time, or energy

inputs, and farmers in this sub-category have low resource commitments to crop

production. All receive some non-farm income, mostly from off-farm jobs or

investments. However, specialty crops do have the potential for generating

substantial per acre incomes once trees or bushes have become mature and produc-

tive, and in rare cases they do provide the major portion of the household's

cash income. Subsistence activities of these farmers tend to be negligible;

most neither garden nor raise livestock.

This is a simple system with only one enterprise, and typically only one

or two crop varieties. Orientation toward growth is associated with full-time

farmers who receive the largest portion of their cash income from the farm.

Part-time farmers are associated with stable operations that require little care

and return little income. The berry farmers, in particular, are in close con-

tact with agricultural research and extension services.

Case #4: The McFaddens own 90 acres but presently utilize
only eleven of it for crop production, growing five acres each
of blueberries and grapes and one acre of apples. They keep no
livestock, raise no garden, and their only subsistence products
are the fruits and berries. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. McFadden work
off the farm, although they do receive a small amount of income
from off-farm sources. They claim, however, to make 100% of
their income from the farm (the only low resource farmers in our
sample to do so) which is an extremely well-kept and clean
U-pick operation.

The McFaddens have had a great deal of contact with the
county extension offices as well as with the University's fruit
crops department. They are presently trying to expand their
farming operation by clearing land and planting a wider variety
of crops, and they have hired a university graduate in agronomy
to help them with this.

5. Mixed Systems:

The mixed farming systems are those in which crops and livestock are al-

most equally important in satisfying income and/or subsistence needs. When











combined, mixed and livestock-centered systems make up 80% of our sample, which

means that livestock are important in 80% of Alachua County farms. Like the

livestock-centered systems, the majority of farms in the mixed category raise

beef cattle, with hogs, chickens, sheep, and other non-beef livestock being com-

paratively rare.

Although the mixed category includes high and low resource farmers and

full and part-time farmers, most farmers in this category farm both for income

and subsistence, and most are growth-oriented. This category also includes a

high proportion of farmers who rely on their farms for the majority of their

cash income. By definition, mixed farms are usually complex and often combine

horticultural and agronomic crops with beef and non-beef livestock.

Tobacco is a high-value crop with special requirements, and farmers who

grow tobacco tend to build a farming system around its requirements. The pre-

sence of tobacco in a county farm is a signal of full-time, high resource farm-

ers and more complex farming systems. Because of this, the mixed category has

been sub-divided into systems with tobacco and systems without it.

A. Mixed With Tobacco System (twelve cases): Farmers growing tobacco

are nearly always high resource, full-time, and rely on their farms for the

majority of their incomes. While not rare, off-farm income generally does not

contribute to the household's cash income as much as the income generated by

the farm. Both crop and livestock enterprises are important. Although generally

central to the farming system, tobacco never appears by itself in the cropping

system and is usually combined with both horticultural and agronomic crops.

Farmers in this category also tend to provide their households with meat and/or

non-meat subsistence, usually over 25% of either, and sometimes over 70% of

both. However, income remains the primary motivation, and growth-orientation







56
is generally found. There are no cases in decline.

B. Mixed Without Tobacco System (fifteen cases): This is less homo-

geneous than any other system and is, therefore, the least satisfactory in terms

of establishing a recommendation domain for research and extension efforts.

Unlike the set of beef-centered cases that could be divided into fairly homo-

geneous low and high resource systems, there are no clear divisions among these

cases. In this sub-category there are twice as many high resource farmers as

low, and nearly twice as many part-time as full-time. Both high and low re-

source farmers gain both income and subsistence from their farms.

All low resource farmers are part-time or receive substantial cash in-

comes from off-farm sources. Low resource people are more concerned with satis-

fying subsistence needs, and the only farmers who do not receive any subsistence

from their farms are some high resource people. Most farmers are growth-

oriented, although stable systems are not uncommon.

Case #5: Mr. and Mrs. Lund own a little over 80 acres, half
of which is planted in corn. Most of the remainder of their land
is in permanent pasture, with 23 acres of coastal bermuda hay and
9 of millet, mainly grown for their 12 almost fully purebred Angus
beef cattle. Seven or eight young apple trees and twenty pecan
trees stand near the home, alongside an acre of garden. In their
garden, the Lunds plant onions, green beans, okra, radish, sweet
corn, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and canteloupes.
All of the corn and some of the hay is sold; all other products
are consumed by the cattle and the Lund family. They keep three
freezers full of garden produce and meat from their cattle, which
accounts for 50% of their meat needs and between 70 and 75% of
their non-meat food needs. Subsistence is the primary orienta-
tion of the farm, and only the garden is irrigated.

Most of the Lund family income comes from non-farm sources,
Mr. Lund working at a full-time job off the farm. Although the
Lunds own a tractor and other farm machinery, they hire one man
to combine their corn and occasionally hire other laborers to
maintain the fences. Mr. Lund has not had any contact with the
county extension agent or office, but has utilized the university
for soil samples. The Lunds are growth-oriented. Mr. Lund is
presently trying to upgrade his cattle, as well as add addition-
al machinery. They would like one day to become nearly totally
self-sufficient.











CHAPTER FIVE

LOW RESOURCE FARMERS

The preceding chapters describe all of the 76 farms and identify nine

farming systems on the basis of a synthesis of production associations (crop

and/or livestock) and farmer characteristics (commitment, motivation, and priori-

ties). The present chapter focuses specifically on low resource farmers, defined

in this study as those who farm 100 acres or less or (in the case of livestock-

centered) have herds of 50 head or less.

1. The Frequency of Low Resource Farmers:

Forty one of the sample (54%) are low resource by our definition, 32 of

whom (42% of the entire sample) qualify because they have 100 acres or less,

and 9 of whom (12% of the entire sample) qualify because they are beef-centered

with small herds, even though they have more than 100 acres. Since our sampling

technique is biased in favor of large landowners (hence, larger farmers), the

proportion of low resource farmers in the county is undoubtedly even higher than

in this report. Evidence that this is true may be found in the 1974 national

agricultural census (see Table XIII), where 50% of county farms have less than

100 acres, compared to 42% of our sample.

The high proportion of farmers who are small or low resource is not con-

fined to this county. Despite major changes in the structure of agricultural

production in the United States in the past 50 years, highlighted by the growth

of large scale commercial enterprises, the majority of farm units remain small.

Using 1974 statistics, 65% of all farms in the USA sell less than $20,000 of

agricultural produce a year, and more than a third (39%) are smaller than 100

acres (U.S. Census of Agriculture 1974). Florida has a higher proportion of

small farms than the nation as a whole, 74% of Florida's farms selling less

57











CHAPTER FIVE

LOW RESOURCE FARMERS

The preceding chapters describe all of the 76 farms and identify nine

farming systems on the basis of a synthesis of production associations (crop

and/or livestock) and farmer characteristics (commitment, motivation, and priori-

ties). The present chapter focuses specifically on low resource farmers, defined

in this study as those who farm 100 acres or less or (in the case of livestock-

centered) have herds of 50 head or less.

1. The Frequency of Low Resource Farmers:

Forty one of the sample (54%) are low resource by our definition, 32 of

whom (42% of the entire sample) qualify because they have 100 acres or less,

and 9 of whom (12% of the entire sample) qualify because they are beef-centered

with small herds, even though they have more than 100 acres. Since our sampling

technique is biased in favor of large landowners (hence, larger farmers), the

proportion of low resource farmers in the county is undoubtedly even higher than

in this report. Evidence that this is true may be found in the 1974 national

agricultural census (see Table XIII), where 50% of county farms have less than

100 acres, compared to 42% of our sample.

The high proportion of farmers who are small or low resource is not con-

fined to this county. Despite major changes in the structure of agricultural

production in the United States in the past 50 years, highlighted by the growth

of large scale commercial enterprises, the majority of farm units remain small.

Using 1974 statistics, 65% of all farms in the USA sell less than $20,000 of

agricultural produce a year, and more than a third (39%) are smaller than 100

acres (U.S. Census of Agriculture 1974). Florida has a higher proportion of

small farms than the nation as a whole, 74% of Florida's farms selling less

57









TABLE XIII

SMALL FARMS IN THE USA, FLORIDA, AND ALACHUA COUNTY BY ANNUAL SALES AND BY ACREAGE (1974)


FARMS BY VALUE OF ANNUAL
SALES OF AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTS

$1,000 to $2,499

$2,500 to $19,999

TOTAL (less than
$20,000)


FARMS BY SIZE

Less than 100 acres

100 to 219 acres

TOTAL (less than 220
acres)


U.S.A.

NUMBER PERCENT OF TOTAL


649,448

863,647


1,513,095


892,559

579,099


1,471,658


FLORIDA

NUMBER PERCENT OF TOTAL


12,372

11,774


24,146


20,298

5,188


25,486


ALACHUA COUNTY

NUMBER PERCENT OF TOTAL


379

352


455

228


(Statistics from US Census of Agriculture)


**
Includes farms with
sell this amount in


potential sales of $1000 or more but which failed to
1974.








59

than $20,000 and 63% being less than 100 acres.

In fact, the whole southeast may be characterized as "the small farmer

region" since almost every southeastern state has higher proportions than the

national average (Table XIV). Using annual sales as the criterion, Florida is

tenth in the region and in the country. Using acreage, Florida is second in

the region and tied for fourth in the country. These 1974 sales figures must

be adjusted to account for inflation in the past six years, but the proportions

illustrate that the majority of the farmers in the nation, region, state, and

county are small.

TABLE XIV

SMALL FARMS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN STATES, USA 1974:

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL FARMS BY ANNUAL SALES AND BY ACREAGE


NATIONAL AVERAGE

West Virginia
Tennessee
Kentucky
Virginia
Mississippi
Alabama
Texas
South Carolina
Oklahoma
Florida
North Carolina
Louisiana
Arkansas
Georgia
Maryland

*US Census of Agricultt


Sales of Less Than
$20,000

65

93
87
86
83
82
81
79
78
76
75 (tenth)
74
73
70
68
61


Less Than 100
Acres

39

37
59
54
50
46
55
31
55
25
63 (second)
66
53
39
46
51







60
Despite sporadic efforts by various programs to assist small scale pro-

ducers, larger commercial operators have been the main beneficiaries of techno-

logical changes which have resulted in significant increases in yields per acre

and labor productivity (Hightower 1972). The strong operational linkages among

government agencies, agricultural research and extension programs, and commer-

cial farmers result in the orientation of nearly all agricultural research and

extension activities toward meeting the needs of the commercial farm sector

(Heady 1973). This situation is unlikely to change in the short run.

However, recent energy shortages and environmental concerns are forcing

a major reappraisal of the assumptions underlying much of the technological

progress in agriculture during the past 50 years (IFAS 1980; Thomas 1979). "If

our agriculture is to survive we must develop a new low-energy technology and

do it quickly" (Tefertiller in Thomas 1979). This reappraisal could dramatical-

ly affect the nature of U.S. farming systems in the future, specifically in the

areas of scale of operations and enterprise mix. Further, these developments

could have important implications for the viability and competitive position of

small farm operations for a broad range of commodities. These recent trends,

plus a continuing interest in the well-being of the majority of the rural farm-

ing population, support research and extension efforts oriented toward small

or low resource farms and underlie this University of Florida farming systems

study.

2. The Context of Beliefs:

Before proceeding to describe the low resource farmers we surveyed, it

is important to put them in context. There is a general consensus that there

is "a problem" with smaller, low resource farmers (Edmond 1980; West 1979).

One basis for this is the belief that these farmers cannot earn a decent living








61
and need to be helped so that they may improve their standard of living through

more profitable farming. Another aspect of this "problem" is the threatened

disappearance of smaller farmers--the belief that they are being pushed off the

land by economic pressures (see Table XV). This is especially true for minority

farmers.

TABLE XV

PERCENTAGE DECLINE IN SOUTHEASTERN 13 STATES FROM 1959 TO 1969

Decline in White Farmers Decline in Minority Farmers

Number of Farms Land in Farms Number of Farms Land in Farms

23% 5% 66% 45%


Source: Lewis, James A. 1976 White and Minority Small Farm Operators
in the South. USDA Agricultural Economic Report, No. 353, p. 2.


Running against the grain of these arguments is another aspect--the ques-

tion of underutilized national resources. There is the belief that smaller,

low resource farmers are inefficient managers of the considerable resources

(especially land) that they control.

Small farm operators constituted half of all southern farm
operators in 1969. Each sold less than $2,500 worth of agricul-
tural products; collectively, they contributed about 4 percent
of the South's total agricultural sales. Yet, small farmers con-
trolled an important portion of the South's agricultural resources.
They operated over 15 percent of all the South's land in farms
and owned more than 20 percent of land owned by farm operators.
They owned land and buildings valued at over $12.3 billion or
18.4 percent of total farm property value for the South. They
held about 19 percent of the value of all machinery and equip-
ment (Lewis 1976).

In an ecological or economic sense those resources could be producing more food,

more wealth, more needed or desired output under more efficient management

(Comer and Woodworth 1977; Bauder 1956; Horne 1979). Based upon the evaluation







62
of efficiency as good (inefficiency as evil), smaller farmers are "a problem"

and they need to either produce more from their land or get out of the way and

let more efficient, larger farmers take over.

Without judging these beliefs and assertions, we must understand their

underlying assumptions and hypotheses about small scale or low resource farms

and farmers. Then we may examine them in light of our data to find out to what

extent those assumptions and hypotheses are supported or contradicted in Alachua

County, Florida. Are Alachua County low resource farmers similar to those found

elsewhere and, thus, perhaps subject to the same judgements and prescriptions?

To begin with, what seem to be the common characteristics of this cate-

gory of farmers in the literature? Some clues are offered by the varying ter-

minology that is used: low resource, low income, small, and disadvantaged are

all adjectives used to describe them. White and Boone's (1976) study of disad-

vantaged farm families in the North Carolina coastal plains area carefully

selected a sample that was similar in farm size and family income. The result-

ing "population was strikingly uniform in social, psychological, and political

characteristics as well" (1976:2). These were Black families with total annual

incomes below $6,000. White and Boone see them as representative of the 14

million rural Americans at the poverty level reported by the 1967 President's

Commission on Rural Poverty. They are

the rural poor ... separated from the mainstream of national
society ... characterized by isolation, lack of participation
in organizations, unemployment or underemployment, receding
economic base, poor education, both geographic and occupa-
tional immobility, restrictive values and beliefs, anomie,
old age, dilapidated housing, and poor health and health care
(1976:12).

Murray and Coughenour's (1977) profile of the southern low-income farmer

includes the following points: relative old age (only 16% under 40 years of









63

age), little formal education (50% attended eight years of school or less), de-

pendence on off-farm income, low total annual family income (40% receiving less

than $5,000), strong attachment to farming, geographically stable in residence,

stable in employment, and more than one third could not even purchase all their

necessities. According to Horne (1979), small farmers are reluctant to take

risks and slow to innovate; their technology differs from that of larger farmers;

and they lack capital and access to credit. There is no consensus, however, as

to whether smaller farmers have the same farming systems and problems as larger

farmers or whether the systems and problems are distinct.

Edmond (1980), in his description of Florida's small farms, states that

"Field experience shows that many of the small farmers in Florida are short on

education, finances, knowledge of improved practices and management skills.

Many work off the farm to supplement their limited net farm income" (1980:5).

He also points out two ways in which Florida's small farmers and farms differ

from popular expectations. Fewer than five percent are members of minority

groups (as of 1974), and small farmers depend more on livestock than on crops

for income.

In sum, what appear to be the prevalent beliefs about small farmers in

this country? First, they are (or their situation is) a problem. They need to

be helped either because they are poor or because they are poor managers. Small

farmers are out of contact with regular agricultural research and extension ser-

vices. They are older than the national average, utilize outmoded technology,

and refuse or cannot afford (no capital, poor access to credit) to innovate.

Shortage of education, skills, money, and time (since they also work off the

farm) or energy (being old and/or retired) inhibit their performance as agricul-

turalists, but they want to remain farmers or cannot afford to leave.








64
Within this general picture there are understood to be recognizable sub-

categories. (1) There are the part-time farmers who are younger and still ac-

tive. They work at part-time or full-time jobs off the farms, and their wives

often work as well. (2) In contrast, there are the old and/or retired who are

part-energy farmers, i.e., they do not devote themselves fully to agriculture

although they do not work off the farm. Both of these two sub-categories receive

money from non-farm sources, the first from a job and the second from pensions,

social security, or prior investments. (3) There are the serious farmers who

work (perhaps full-time) at earning a living through agriculture probably pro-

ducing food for themselves and certainly producing for sale. They and their

families depend primarily or completely on agriculture for their livelihood.

(4) In contrast, whether young or old, there are the hobby farmers who are en-

gaged in agriculture as an enjoyable pastime rather than an occupation. They

"putter around" rather than work. (5) Contrasted with those who produce crops

and/or animals to sell for a cash income, other small farmers are only interested

in (for whatever reason) only producing for their own subsistence. They do not

market anything but eat it all, and their production is oriented toward their

family needs and tastes.

3. County Low Resource Farmers--Poverty and Isolation:

Keeping the preceding beliefs and sub-categories in mind, let us return

to examine the low resource farmers we surveyed in Alachua County, Florida.

Probably the best place to begin is with the poverty and isolation that have

been mentioned as basic characteristics of these farmers in the U.S. Poverty,

of course, refers to the farmer's general destitution and lack of material and

financial resources. Isolation means a lack of communication between the farmer

and the established agricultural research and extension services.








65
Poverty was not a major topic in our investigation into farming systems

and, as was pointed out in an earlier chapter, questions about income were often

left unanswered. Consequently, our evaluation of people's standard of living

and accumulated wealth was largely impressionistic. The final criteria that

were used to assess wealth included income data from the people who answered

those questions, the visual appearances of houses, yards, cars and trucks, farm

machinery, furniture, and clothing, and comments that farmers and their families

made concerning their ability to pay bills, access to credit, etc.

Only three of the 41 low resource farmers (and one higher resource farmer)

appear to be obviously poor. These four represent 7% of the low resource and

5% of all farmers and are all relatively old people who receive some income

from off-farm sources such as social security or a child who works and helps

support the entire household. The incidence of obvious poverty does not cluster

within a single farming system; each of the four practices a different system.

Nor does it correlate apparently with high subsistence; the four range from one

who provides none of his own subsistence from the farm to one who is almost

totally self-sufficient in both meat and non-meat foods.

Accepting for the moment the statistic that 7% of low resource or 5% of

all farmers in the county are obviously poor, that means 35 or more such farmers

exist in the county (Table XIII). This is undoubtedly an undercount of rural

poverty because our survey undercounts smaller landowners in general, and many

people who are struggling with poverty conditions are not obviously poor. From

the few cases that we have seen, these obviously poor farmers do appear similar

to the poor who were characterized at the beginning of this chapter. Unfortu-

nately, since our randomized survey was not specifically investigating the ex-

tent and conditions of poor farmers, and since the sample of obviously poor







66

farmers is very small, the characterizations offered in the preceding paragraph

should not be assumed to apply in general to poor farmers in Alachua County.

If this population is of special interest, then a specific survey should be com-

missioned for them.

Isolation was measured directly by asking people whether they ever visited

the extension office (67% of low resource farmers said yes) or were visited at

their farms by an extension agent (35% said yes). The frequency and duration

of visits and the subject and utility of the information received were not asked

about, nor whether the farmers received other research and extension materials

through the mail or mass media (Doughty 1981). There was an obvious difference

among categories in terms of on-farm visits: 71% of crop-centered farmers were

visited compared with 33% of mixed and 25% of livestock-centered, but there was

little difference among farmers in terms of their visiting the extension office:

range from 50% for mixed to 71% for crop-centered.

The general absence of apparent poverty and isolation is a major differ-

ence between Alachua County low resource farmers and the generalizations men-

tioned earlier in this chapter. This does not imply, however, that rural pover-

ty is absent from the county because it does exist here. Nor does it imply

that the county agricultural services reach everybody because they do not.

What it does point out is that the category of low resource farmers cannot auto-

matically be assumed to mean poor and isolated people. The category is too

heterogeneous, and the people in farming are too varied for simple labels to be

applied to everyone. Another dimension of this is that the lack of capital

and the isolation from information may no longer be assumed to be the major fac-

tors that constrain most low resource farmers. The basis for the decisions to

be farmers, and small farmers, must be sought in other factors.












4. Time Commitment:

Tables XVI and XVII show the respective commitment of time for low and

high resource farmers in the sample and, by implication, in the county. Sixty

one per cent of low resource farmers are part-time, whereas almost the opposite

is true for high resource people where 66% are full-time. Thus, low resource

farmers are making smaller commitments of time as well as capital to agriculture.

With rare exceptions, the surveyed low resource farmers are either part-time

farmers or are full-time farmers who cannot devote large amounts of time and

energy to agriculture because of their age or poor health. As was mentioned

before, in the random sample 35% of all surveyed farmers are 60 years of age or

older, and only 22% are under 40 years of age. The statistics for only low re-

source farmers are similar: 39% are 60 or older, and 17% are under 40.

The sick and elderly may not be physically able to allocate more time or

energy to agriculture, but the younger part-time farmers might be able to in-

crease their time commitment or redouble their energies if they perceived some

advantage in doing so. This is a critical issue in terms of agricultural re-

search and extension. How many part-time low resource farmers, and in what

types of systems, would be willing to work more in agriculture if they were

shown more efficient or profitable technologies or production associations?

Turning that around, how many low resource farmers have established what they

consider to be an optimum balance between on-farm and off-farm work and are un-

willing to invest more time or energy in farming?

Many innovations that are suggested by research or extension require the

low resource farmer to commit more time to farming--these innovations are based

on the assumption that land and capital are the limiting factors. That may be

a misjudgment. The farmer may feel that his or her time is a more important









TABLE XVI

PRODUCTION AND FARMER CATEGORIES AMONG ALACHUA COUNTY LOW RESOURCE FARMERS


PRODUCTION CATEGORY

Low-Resource Beef

Non-Beef Livestock

Crop-Centered
Horticultural

Crop-Centered
Specialty

Mixed-Balanced
Tobacco

Mixed-Balanced
No Tobacco


TOTAL


% OF TOTAL


61%


39%


46%


TIME COMMITMENT
PART-TIME FULL-TIME


MOTIVATION PRIORITIES
GROWTH STABLE DECLINE INCOME SUBSISTENCE BOTH


TOTALS
% OF
NEITHER TOTAL TOTAL


6 10 1


3 0


1 0


2 1


1 0


5 0


10 21 2


19 46%

7 17%


3 7%


6 15%


1 2%


5 12%

41 100%


24%


This category contains the only full-time low-resource farmer
who depends on the farm as the major source of cash income.





TABLE XVII

PRODUCTION AND FARMER CATEGORIES AMONG ALACHUA COUNTY HIGH RESOURCE FARMERS


PRODUCTION CATEGORY

High-Resource Beef

Crop-Centered
Agronomic

Crop-Centered Agro-
nomic and Horticul-
tural


TIME COMMITMENT


PART-TIME


FULL-TIME


MOTIVATION


PRIORITIES


GROWTH STABLE DECLINE INCOME SUBSISTENCE BOTH


TOTALS
% OF
NEITHER TOTAL TOTAI


8 23%


2 6%



4 11%


Mixed-Balanced
Tobacco

Mixed-Balanced
No Tobacco


TOTAL


0 10


1 24


0 11 31%


0 10 29%


0 35 100%


66% 71% 17% 11% 29%


% OF TOTAL 37%


3% 69% 0%








70
factor and is presently being employed to more advantage elsewhere. In fact,

the farm may be small because the farmer chooses not to commit more time or cap-

ital to it, perhaps because there are other, more rewarding (in whatever way)

off-farm activities, or because the farmer wishes more leisure rather than more

work.

This does not mean that no low resource farmers want to put in more work

on the farm, but that research and extension cannot assume that more time and

energy will flow to the farm if they suggest innovations. Some of the low re-

source (in terms of commitment of capital to agriculture) farmers we surveyed

are owners of shops and businesses. Others are pilots, electricians, carpenters,

professionals, and full-time state employees. How dramatic an agricultural in-

novation would it take for them to re-orient themselves away from these lucra-

tive off-farm occupations to put more time into farming? These and other low

resource farmers are interested in making money from their farms or, at least,

establishing them as self-sufficient operations, but the farmer's time is almost

always seen as a limiting factor. They are unwilling now to become fuller-time

farmers (more dependent on agriculture), but many are preparing for such a fu-

ture, perhaps upon retirement.

In addition to this conflict in time commitment between on-farm and off-

farm activities, there is another dimension of conflicting demands on the farm-

er's time--overlapping labor requirements for production, maintenance, and

marketing for the farm itself. The farmer must select commodities and organize

the farm to minimize the overlapping of peak demands for his or her time, par-

ticularly since little non-family labor is hired to substitute for or comple-

ment the farmer's and farm family's work. Figure I in chapter two expresses

the labor requirements of the most important county crops. These requirements

underlie the selection of crops and livestock by various farmers and illustrate









the importance of recognizing the interdependence of different elements of the

farming system, an interdependence brought out again in our examination of gar-

dening and subsistence activities.

5. Complexity, Gardens, Priorities, and Subsistence:

When this study began, we had two divergent hypotheses concerning the

link between farm size and complexity. One was that larger farmers are more

complex. The other was the reverse: since smaller farms are more oriented to-

ward subsistence for the farm family, smaller farms will have small amounts of

a wide range of enterprises to provide more elements of the family's diet. In

the end, both hypotheses find some support in the data.

With the popularity of crop (22%) or livestock-centered (63%) and the

unpopularity of mixed (14%) systems among low resource farmers (Table XVI), it

is easy to conclude that they prefer to operate simple as opposed to complex

systems. However, this is to some extent a product of our methodology. Given

the scale at which low resource farmers operate, gardening often occupies a

significant place in the total production system. To a person with a small herd

of livestock, a one acre garden is disproportionately important. Where large

gardens are important in the low resource farmer's total production system,

the complexity of the operation may be quite high. Seventy six per cent of the

low resource livestock-centered farmers have gardens: perhaps a number of them

should be reclassified as mixed in terms of their total production. At least,

gardens should be included as an element in future farming systems studies.

Our procedure arbitrarily excludes gardens from the set of farm enter-

prises. The exclusion reflects a prevailing cultural dichotomy between, on the

one hand, gardens and gardeners and, on the other, farms and farmers. Unfortu-

nately, this loyalty to popular culture camouflages the significance of garden








72
production in the total agricultural production of low resource farm families,

as well as in the total agricultural demands on people's time and energy. One

low resource farmer explicitly stated that for three months out of the year his

garden takes as much time as the rest of his farm. This same farmer stated that

satisfying subsistence needs is the major reason he is farming, estimating his

total non-meat self-sufficiency as over 70%.

Although subsistence is obviously more important a priority for low re-

source farmers than for high resource (Tables XVI and XVII), the majority of

both categories (51% of low and 69% of high) pursue both income and subsistence

goals from their farming. However, another 24% of the low resource farmers

have subsistence as their sole priority, whereas that is true for only one high

resource person. Seventy six per cent of low resource farmers have their own

gardens: 52% get some or all of their meat from their own livestock; and 31%

receive some meat from hunting and fishing.

Investigating the circumstances which surround the high combined percen-

tage (76%) of low resource farmers who farm for subsistence purposes (solely or

in addition to cash income) is important not only in describing these systems,

but also in designing programs which are tailored to the needs and expectations

of low resource farmers. Farming systems (including gardens) which do not

generate high cash incomes may be interpreted as non-viable, hence, beyond the

concerns of agricultural research and extension programs. Our sample indicates

that this is a misconception.

Whereas none of the low resource farmers in our sample are totally depen-

dent on the farm for cash income, the annual amount of meat and non-meat self-

sufficiency generated by these systems is often extremely important in meeting

the household's overall costs of living. This is particularly true for house-

holds whose off-farm incomes are fixed, such as those receiving social security.








73

The majority of the full-time low resource farmers are elderly individuals or

couples in situations where off-farm sources of income provide the household

with its major or only cash, yet that cash income is comparatively small by to-

day's standards. Faced with the increasing costs of fuel, medical care, and

other non-food necessities, the food from their farms becomes increasingly im-

portant for these low resource farmers.

The discussion of time commitments, priorities, and gardens shows how

low resource farm families combine subsistence and commercial agricultural pro-

duction with off-farm work. Farmers and their families are not faced with a

choice among three alternatives: remain in farming and make it profitable, be

self-sufficient, or seek off-farm employment. Instead of choosing one of these,

farmers may combine the three to create livelihoods in which farm production

is part of their total agricultural production (farm plus garden), and agricul-

tural subsistence and cash incomes are part of their total incomes.

6. Motivation:

The information on farmer motivation (Tables XVI and XVII) corresponds

in many ways with the popular context of beliefs about small farmers. Almost

the same proportion of low resource farmers are oriented toward stability (41%)

as toward growth (46%), whereas high resource farmers are overwhelmingly growth-

oriented (71%). Approximately the same percentage of low (12%) and high (11%)

resource farmers are in decline, i.e., reducing their involvement or getting

out of farming. This shows that slightly more than half of low resource farmers

are not apparently interested in or oriented toward increasing their agricultur-

al commitment or production. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that more than

a quarter of the high resource farmers are similarly uninterested in growth.

Stability-orientation is a residual classification for those farmers who are









74
neither obviously growth-oriented nor in decline, so the designation of many

farmers as uninterested in growth is a tentative one.

It does point out that research and extension cannot assume that all low

resource farmers are interested in growth or development. Some are, and per-

tinent research questions that need to be asked and answered to orient small

farmer programs are: What types of farmers, in which systems, are receptive to

what kinds of technological or organizational innovations? Under what condi-

tions are people interested in labor-saving or labor-intensive, capital-saving

or capital-intensive, land-saving or land-intensive innovations? Who wants im-

mediate returns for any investment, and how many are willing to forego income

now in order to establish low-management, long-term, self-sufficient or profit-

able farms in the future?

There are obvious associations for both low and high resource farmers

between motivation and choice of farming system. For low resource farmers the

most apparent are, on one side, decline and beef-centered and, on the other

side, growth and mixed farming. Almost all (80%) those with declining involve-

ment in agriculture are beef-centered, while almost all (83%) the mixed farmers

are growth-oriented.

One implication for county research and extension is that mixed low re-

source farmers are a generally receptive audience for ideas and changes that

might increase their profits and/or production. This does not mean, however,

that all growth-oriented low resource farmers are running mixed operations--32%

of beef-centered, 57% of non-beef livestock-centered, and 50% of specialty

crop-centered are also growth-oriented.

The specialty crop farmers are obviously willing to invest money and

energy for years without any cash returns. Berry farmers are involved in enter-

prises that must mature five years or so before reaching full production, and







75

farmers who grow nut or fruit trees must wait even longer. This system is

utilized by people who are looking for longer-term investments, often looking

ahead to a time when they will retire to live full-time on the farm and will

need the farm to be self-sustaining or profit-generating.

This points out another set of questions that need to be investigated:

The farmers who do desire to grow or to develop their farms--what are their

patterns of change? Will they tend to continue their earlier mix of enter-

prises at a larger scale, or under what conditions will they change their sys-

tems by adding or substituting new enterprises? In other words, to what extent

are the present systems, and farmer membership in a system, fairly fixed, or

will farmers change from one to another system fairly easily? These are ques-

tions that require longitudinal and historical studies (extended case studies

of individual farmers and farms) for their answers.

Obviously the question of farmer motivation is more complex than our

simple division among three orientations (growth, stability, and decline). One

important complication is that farming is only part of these people's liveli-

hood. They are not totally dependent on agriculture nor committed to it, and

their total orientation toward earning a living, and toward change and devel-

opment, cannot be discerned through an investigation like ours that confines

itself to their farming activities and does not examine their total social and

economic system.

Within the confines of this present brief survey, we may only tentative-

ly advance a few hypotheses to explain the non-growth orientation of approxi-

mately half of the low resource farmers in our sample. Many farmers, including

many of the growth-oriented, just seem to like living in the countryside.

Farming--putting something in the ground or raising some animals--seems to

represent either a way to reduce the costs (taxes) of that pleasant life








76

(through an agricultural assessment) or to be an integral aspect of that life.

One man said quite simply, "I like having land around me and graze a few cows

for tax purposes." Another asked, "Where else can you sit three and a half

miles from the courthouse square and watch your cows come in from your front

yard?" A third responded, "We're just old retired folks who don't do much."

The major implications of this for agricultural research and extension

are that: (1) the automatic equating of "small and low resource farmer" with

"problem" must be questioned, and (2) farmers need to be asked what are their

problems. Years ago the senior author of this report was working in a program

to train Bolivian small farmers to become extension agents in a governmental

development agency. After lecturing one afternoon for about an hour on the

problems of Andean agriculture (high altitude, aridity, poor soils, fragmented

fields, hoe technology, etc.), he asked if the farmer trainees had any questions.

One farmer replied that he understood everything that was said about the charac-

teristics of the agriculture he had practised for years. He had but one ques-

tion. "Que es problema?" (What is the problem?) The author learned a lesson

that day from that farmer. The same situation may be defined by some people

as one problem, by other people as a different problem, and by yet other people

as no problem at all. Those people who define something as a problem may be

looking for solutions, but the others are not.

Research and extension staff should not assume that they know what low

resource farmers want. Although not isolated from extension, farmers must be

included in the team that decides on research and extension priorities. It is

almost certainly true that different categories of farmers will put forth dif-

ferent priorities of problems if asked, so it is important to include various

types of farmers in these teams. The sets of problems that are defined -- seen










77
from the farmers' point of view--will include some items that cannot be at-

tacked by localized research and extension: input prices, terms of trade, etc.,

but the remaining items would serve as the basis for action-oriented research

and farmer-desired extension. In addition, these priorities may serve as

another criterion for creating recommendation domains, i.e., farmers with simi-

lar priorities and questions may be classed together as domains for research

and extension, even though they practice different production strategies.

In summary, after examining the features of poverty, isolation, time com-

mitment, priorities, subsistence, and motivation, it is possible to compare

county low resource farmers with the context of beliefs outlined at the begin-

ning of the chapter. The majority of county low resource farmers are not ob-

viously poor nor isolated, unlike the stereotype. It is questionable whether

low resource farmers in Alachua County are or have "a problem" in general, and

it is similarly unclear whether the lack of capital, access to credit, and ac-

cess to available information are specific problems for many of them. Almost

all are part-time or part-energy and, although they like farming, do not devote

themselves fully to agriculture but have off-farm commitments and income. Sub-

sistence and gardens are important aspects of farming to many. The choice of

farming system does correspond to some extent with the orientation toward

growth, stability, or decline, but the survey was not able to clearly separate

the hobby and serious farmers nor to clearly delineate the poor farmers.

7. Production Categories and Management Requirements:

After this summary of farmer characteristics, it is time to examine more

closely the favored production categories and their management requirements.

The most striking production feature of low resource farmers in the

county is their tendency to operate livestock-centered farming systems. Sixty










78
three percent of these people are livestock-centered; they run 19 of the 27

beef-centered farms and all (7) of the non-beef (Table XVI). This clustering

is not surprising, being consistent with our hypothesis that people with simi-

lar commitments should choose similar production strategies (only 29% of the

high resource farmers are livestock-centered). The low-labor, low-management

character of a livestock-centered system does not require large time or energy

inputs, making it an appropriate system for part-time and part-energy farmers.

Livestock-centered systems with fewer than 50 animals do not require large

capital outlays to continue operating, and livestock are an investment that re-

produces itself. In addition, the majority (80%) of low resource farms which

are declining because of the death of a spouse, old age, poor health, etc.

(some from more complex systems) fall within the livestock-centered category--

75% of declining high resource farms are also livestock-centered.

This emphasis on livestock agrees with Edmond's (1980) observation that
"many small farmers in Florida could be helped most significantly by providing

them with more efficient production practices associated with 'cattle and

calves'" (1980:10) and highlights the need for animal scientist involvement in

low resource farm research and extension efforts (see Appendix 0 and further

discussion in this chapter).

Crop-centered production systems are the second most popular systems

(22%) for low resource farmers, with half as many in horticultural as in special-

ty crops. The three horticultural farms are very small (the largest is 40

acres) and very simple, with no more than one crop (watermelons, peppers, or

peas) and no livestock. This simplifies management requirements. The horti-

cultural crop-centered and many of the livestock-centered farmers appear to be

very similar. They want low-management systems, are strongly or primarily con-

cerned with subsistence, and appear to be motivated more by the tax savings







79
from an agricultural assessment than by the desire for a large cash income from

the farm. The difference between them (one with a crop and the other with ani-

mals) appears to be due to childhood farm experiences. The following paraphrases

what we were told upon asking farmers why they had only crops or only animals:

"We had animals when I was a child. They were always breaking out and causing

trouble. I said that when I grew up I would never have animals." "We had ani-

mals when I was a child. They were easy to take care of and fun to raise, while

crops were hard work. I said that when I grew up I would only have animals."

While sometimes more complex, specialty crop-centered farms are often

very simple, with usually only one crop and little or no livestock, but these

farms and farmers differ in several ways from the horticulturalists. The

specialty crop farms all combine immediate cash incomes with long-term invest-

ments. All but one of the six specialty operations have been started in the

last decade, the exception being a nursery for ornamentals that is the only

remaining productive enterprise on what used to be a larger farm. With that

exception, the other specialty farmers are all "post-urban" people who have

moved part-time or full-time (if retired from their previous careers) into ag-

riculture from the city. These people retain many of their previous or contin-

uing business or professional contacts and are definitely not isolated from

existing agricultural services.

Within the specialty category it is important to distinguish in our sam-

ple between the tree crop (pecans or peaches) and berry/nursery farmers. The

former run very simple operations (only one crop), and two of the three tree

crop farmers are absentee owners who contract skilled labor to care for their

trees and harvest the crop. Little is known about the two absentee owners be-

cause they were not present during the survey, but they are clearly not in-

terested in a farming system that requires a lot of resident management.








80

The two berry farmers, on the other hand, are obviously choosing a crop

that requires more management but promises to make their small farms pay for

themselves or earn profits after taxes. Their farms are more complex than the

horticultural or tree crop farms, and one of the two berry farmers is the only

low resource farmer in our random sample who relies on the farm for the major

portion of the household's cash income.

Within the crop-centered category as a whole, the definite division be-

tween low and high resource farmers is the presence or absence of agronomic

crops. The probable explanation for the lack of interest in agronomic crops

among low resource farmers relates profitability and farm size. Agronomic

crops are only really profitable when large quantities are grown. Since prof-

it per acre tends to be low, small acreages of agronomic crops do not generate

high net incomes. In fact, one low resource farmer told us that he took a

course in farm management, did a cost-benefit analysis of planting agronomic

crops, and subsequently reduced his agronomic crop acreage from 80 to five

acres.

Management requirements and the profitability of agronomic crops help

explain the relative unpopularity (14%) of mixed systems among low resource

farmers and relative popularity (60%) among high resource farmers. Although

mixed production is uncommon for low resource farmers, those who have chosen

this association of crops and livestock are overwhelmingly growth-oriented

(83%)--unusual for low resource farmers--and all of them are pursuing both in-

come and subsistence. Another unusual aspect (investigated in the next section

on resource utilization) is that all six of these farmers use 60 to 100% of

their available land for crops and pasture--a uniformly high rate of utiliza-

tion.







81

Of the six low resource farmers who mix crop and livestock production,

only four grow agronomic crops; one grows tobacco (the only low resource farmer

to grow this) and one watermelons, which are high value per acre crops. Two

of the four with agronomic crops grow hay and were originally placed in the

livestock-centered category. They remain borderline cases, but since the hay

is sold for direct cash income, they were reclassified and put into mixed. The

other two sell some of their agronomic crops (corn, millet, and hay) and use

some as feed for their livestock.

8. Utilization of Resources:

One of the aspects of small farms that needs to be better analyzed and

understood is the utility to the farmer of the acreage that is now owned. If

some or much of their arable land is not now being used for crops or livestock,

is land a limiting factor in their agricultural decisions?

Alachua County low resource farmers now use 55% of their land for crops

(not counting timber) and/or pasture for livestock. Some of the rest is used

for buildings, roads, or yards. Large amounts are in natural woods and planted

pine, and some is clearly unusable (swamp, pond, ravine, etc.). For the county

as a whole (see Table I), about equal amounts of land are in crops and pasture

(32%) as are in woodland, lakes, swamps, and marshes (32 to 37%). Without es-

timating the amount that is arable or evaluating the comparative profitability

of woodland versus pasture and crops, it is nonetheless apparent that some of

that woodland could be farmed.

Farms vary considerably in the extent to which they farm the land they

control. Table XVIII shows that almost a quarter of the low resource farmers

in the county utilize all their land for crops and/or pasture, while an equiva-

lent number use only 10 to 20%. Sixty percent of the farmers use 60% or more

for farming.








82
TABLE XVIII
LOW RESOURCE FARMER UTILIZATION OF FARMLAND FOR PASTURE AND CROPS

(N = 38)
Percentage of Total Farmland Utilized

Farmers 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 TOTAL

Number 4 5 -- 1 5 1 6 3 4 9 38

% 10 13 -- 2 13 2 10 8 10 24 55%


(Woodland is not considered here to be utilized.)


Individual variation among farmers may be due to many factors: temper-

ament, land quality, etc., that are not relevant to this study of systems.

What is more important is the variation among farming systems. Table XIX shows

that there is a range from 17 to 82%. The high rate of utilization (82%) by

mixed farmers agrees with earlier comments about their growth orientation,

while the low rates for horticultural and specialty crop-centered farmers (17%

and 24%, respectively) reflect (1) the absence of agronomic crops or pasture,

(2) the labor-intensive nature of horticultural and berry crops, (3) the mini-

mal involvement in agriculture of the horticulturalist, and (4) the minimal

acreage needed by the ornamental nursery operation (less than half an acre for

greenhouses on a 70 acre farm). If the last were omitted from the specialty

statistics, the rate of land utilization for that system would climb from the

present 24% to 31%.

This rate of utilization for all low resource compares with a 89% rate

for county high resource farmers. Low resource farmers do have a lower percent-

age of their land resources in crop and pasture production than do high resource








83
TABLE XIX

UTILIZATION OF FARMLAND FOR CROPS AND PASTURE BY SYSTEM

(N = 40)

Livestock-
Centered Horticultural Specialty Mixed TOTAL


Utilized 56% 17% 24% 82% 55%



(Woodland is not considered here to be utilized.)


farmers, but the 89% rate for the latter needs to be somewhat qualified. Larger

scale farmers, after enumerating their acreage in various crops, were apt to say

that the rest of their land was in pasture, disregarding any woodland or unusable

acreage. Smaller scale farmers, on the contrary, were more apt to report that

exactly so much of the rest was in pasture and exactly so much unusable or in

woods. Another reason for the higher utilization rate for high resource farmers

has to do with the popularity of different farming systems: 60% of high resource

people are in mixed farming while only 14% of low are mixed. As can be seen in

Table XIX, mixed farming utilizes a greater proportion of available farmland

than any other system for low resource farmers.

9. Management of Resources:

Farm management was not directly measured in the survey but a few indirect

indications were noted: ownership of farm machinery, use of insecticides and

herbicides, and hiring of farm labor (Table XX). More than 70% of low resource

farmers own a tractor, and slightly fewer own other equipment. Less than half

use insecticides and only a third herbicides. Only 30% hire labor for harvest-

ing, and 35% for other tasks. These overall statistics show that approximately








84
30% do not own any machinery, not even a tractor (thus not using fossil fuels

either). The majority do not use any agricultural chemicals for pest or weed

control, and approximately two-thirds rely completely on family labor.


TABLE XX

USE OF INPUTS BY PRODUCTION CATEGORIES

(percentages)

Own Machinery Use Chemicals Hire Labor
Tractor Other Insecticides Herbicides Harvest Other

Livestock-
Centered
(N = 24) 71 63 39 17 9 30

Crop-Centered
(N = 8) 50 63 50 50 50 50

Horticultural 67 67 33 33 33 33
(N = 3)

Specialty
(N = 5) 40 60 60 60 60 60

Mixed (N = 6) 100 100 67 67 83 33

TOTAL (N = 38) 71 68 46 32 30 35


This evidence of non-use of purchased inputs is another facet of the self-

sufficiency characteristic of many low resource farmers. The relatively high

percentage who own machinery includes a number whose equipment is old, sometimes

having been inherited or purchased decades earlier, so the statistics on machin-

ery (71 and 68%) should not be interpreted to imply recent cash outlays or depen-

dence on credit.

There are visible differences among production categories. All of the

mixed farmers own tractors and other equipment, followed by livestock-centered

and horticultural-centered farmers. Mixed farmers are also leaders in the use of









85

agricultural chemicals and harvest labor, followed by specialty crop-centered

farmers. Livestock-centered farms hire less labor than any other category and

use fewer chemicals.

10. Data From Other Surveys:

A. Beef Cattle-Raising: Because of the importance of beef cattle in

county agriculture, another survey was conducted that focused on that specific

commodity. The beef survey (an example of farming systems research "in the

small") examined production and marketing practices in greater detail to (1) de-

termine how low and high resource farmers differ or are similar in their tech-

nology and (2) to suggest implications for further research and extension work.

The 13 cattle-raising farmers interviewed in the beef survey included

some farmers from the random sample as well as others who were not in that

original sample. All but one of the 13 are livestock-centered (one high re-

source is mixed). Four of the 13 are low resource (fewer than 50 cattle);

three are intermediate (50 to 100 head), a category absent from the random sam-

ple; and six are high (more than 100). In this brief summary of their analysis

(see Appendix D for more details), intermediate and high resource are classed

together as high (69% of sample).

The survey of cattle-raisers shows that the majority conduct soil tests

(with varying frequency) on the fields they use for pasture, hay, and agronomic

crops for cattle feed. The majority of these farmers also fertilize, lime,

disc, and harrow their fields (thus needing a tractor and other machinery),

use improved grasses, and make hay (which occupies most of their summer months).

Smaller farmers often lease baling equipment or contract someone to bale their

hay, while larger farmers own their equipment. No one tests their hay for qual-

ity, although that service is available.












TABLE XXI

LOW AND HIGH RESOURCE CATTLE-RAISERS IN THE COUNTY

(in percentages)


Frequency in sample

Baling equipment

Calving success rate:
95% 100%
90% 94%
80% 89%
75% 79%

Hire labor
full-time
part-time
Length of breeding season
Purchase more than 5% of feed
Stocking rate


Low Resource Farmers
(<50 head of cattle)

(N = 4) 30%

often leased or con-
tracted


25%
25%
25%
25%

75%


75%
all year
75%
almost double that
of high resource
farmers


High
( 50

(N =


Resource Farmers
head of cattle)

9) 69%

owned


44%
22%
33%
--

75%
50%
25%
4-6 months
33%


(From Appendix D)


Most of the cattle operations are cow-calf. All of the farmers do the

routine veterinary work themselves, and low and high resource farmers have simi-

lar success with calving rates. Low and high resource farmers also give simi-

lar reasons for raising beef cattle (choosing that farming system) and agree on

what needs to be done to be successful. The majority enjoy raising cattle, con-

sider it a profitable enterprise, and think efficient management and marketing

are the keys to success.

Both the overall farming systems survey and the specific beef survey find









the same relationship between commitment of capital and time. Low resource

farmers are more frequently part-time. In addition, the beef survey shows

that 50% of the higher resource farmers hire full-time help, and another 25%

part-time, while no low resource farmers hire full-time help.

Commitment of labor time to agriculture is a complex issue, but the

scarcity of available time does appear to influence low resource farmers' ag-

ricultural decisions. The beef survey reports that low resource farmers say

that they do not plant crops (other than pasture) to complement their live-

stock operations because they lack the time.

Labor availability also affects the length of time the bull is left with

the cows. Although none of the farmers follow research recommendations for a

90 day breeding season, larger farmers only allow the bull to remain four to

six months while smaller farmers leave the bull in all year. To some extent

this may reflect a shortage of pasture or capital (cannot afford a separate

bull pasture), but allowing the bull access to the cows all year also reduces

peak demands on the farmer's time. Not only is time spent in moving the bull

reduced to a minimum, but the calving season is spread over the whole year in-

stead of being concentrated in a few months of high labor requirements.

Other significant differences between low and high resource cattle-

raisers include stocking rates, purchase of feed, importance of subsistence

and other livestock, and the pattern of growth. Low resource farmers have a

higher stocking rate (animals per acre); farmers with more than 200 acres have

almost half the rate of smaller farmers who, therefore, must purchase more

feed for their cattle. Half of the low resource farmers raise livestock other

than cattle as well, largely because of their desire to provide for their

families' subsistence meat demands. This interest in subsistence from their








88
own animals is less noticeable among larger cattle-raisers: only a third of

those with more than 100 head of cattle also raise other types of livestock.

Low resource cattle-raisers grow by increasing their herd size (and,

thus, their stocking rate and need to purchase feed), whereas high resource

farmers in the beef survey tend to grow by reorganizing to reduce their feed-

ing costs while holding their herd size steady.

B. Watermelon and Squash Production: Two other special surveys of pro-

duction and marketing practices for specific commodities (watermelons and

squash) were conducted. Again, the purpose was to note differences and similar-

ities between low and high resource farmers and suggest opportunities for

needed research and extension. These two studies also included some farmers

from the random sample as well as some who were not interviewed earlier. Eco-

nomic analyses in these surveys provide another way to measure management. Al-

though the studies are being published separately (Gilbert, et. al. 1981), we

will summarize some of the management observations.

The watermelon study differentiates low and high resource (or small and

larger scale) farmers in a different way than this general farming systems sur-

vey. Watermelon growers are classed in the crop survey according to acreage

under crops. Of the sixteen growers interviewed, four have 50 or fewer acres

in crops (25% of the sample). They are considered to be low resource farmers

(see Table XXII). Six of the other growers have 50 through 200 acres in crops,

while the last six have more than 200 acres--these 12 are all considered high

resource in this summary. All of the low and most of the high resource farmers

work off the farm or are retired.

Watermelons are a special crop in several ways. Because of the wide

swings in annual watermelon prices, the crop is high value and high risk.




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