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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
LEVY COUNTY SONDEO REPORT
April 5, 1384
University of Florida
Part I :
Part II :
Analysis of Constraints
Part I: INTRODUCTION
Statement of purpose
The main objective of this study was to determine the problems and
prospects of the small scale, limited resource cattle farmers in Levy
County, Florida. The detailed objectives are:
1. To characterize the farming practices of small scale, limited
resource cattle raisers in the area.
2. To determine the degree of awareness of these farmers to recently
developed cattle-raising technologies.
3. To determine the reasons for poor or non-adaptation, if any.
4. To suggest appropriate measures for increasing the adaptation
of new technologies for the purpose of improving cattle production
in the area.
Description of the area
levy County is located on the West coast of Florida, and covers an
area of 1,137 square miles, of which 34 square miles is covered with
water. It is basically a flat county, the altitude varies frcm 13 to
82 feet above sea level. The average temperature ranges from 57,9 OF
in January to 82,1 OF in August. The average rainfall is 45,3 inches,
see chart for yearly distribution figures.
The vegetation on the majority of the county's surface is hardwood
forest, interrupted by pine/palmettos, flatwoods and coastal marsh.
The soils can be grouped into four types:
1. Coast-consisbof southern limestcnes, overlain with poorly
drained sands, with flatwoods or grass.
2. Central axis and to the West: poorly drained sands, with high
acidity and lowland flatwoods.
3. East and North-West: well- to overly drained sands of the
central uplands type, with forests of slash pine and hardwoods.
4. Far North-East: like 3, but higher fertility, being naturally
high in potash, suitable for citrus, vegetables, tobacco and grazing.
Census data and Human Capital profile
In 1980 Levy County contained 19,870 inhabitants. The current growth.
rate of the population is 8.4% per year, predominantly because of
migration. This rate of increase is faster than Florida as a whole
(6.5%), but slower than surrounding counties: Dixie, 13.4%; Citrus,
Of the inhabitants 97.8% are monolingual english speakers; 53.8%
of the population has completed High School, with only 8% having
completed four years of College.
There were 5,608 households in the county. The average size of house-
holds in the rural farm portion was 2.77 persons; this figure fell
1.1% between 1980-1982. Overall, there are 3.06 persons per household.
The labor force numbers 6,821 persons. The predominant occupations,
listed in decreasing rank, are: professional, retailing, construction,
manufacturing, agriculture. Of those listed in the rural farm portion.
(406 persons), only 138 (34%) listed agriculture as their major source
of employment. This tendency was vigorously supported by the data gathered
by the teamss, as will be shown later.
The financial structure is as follows: Median income $12,464; Mean
income $15,735; Individual per capital income $5,883; Households below
the poverty line -16.6% (!).
Agriculture in Levy County
In 1978, Levy County had 222,094 acres in farmland, divided among
485 farms, making the average farm size 458 acres, and comprising 32%
of the land surface of the county. The land distribution is not highly
skewed, with 16.3% of farms over 500 acres, and 24.5% under 50 acres.
However, of the 485 farms in Levy County, 144 (30%) sold less than
$2,500 in agricultural products. Of these, 85% are fully owned by operators,
12.5% partially owned by operators, with 20% tenant farmers.
Of the land under farms, 36% was used for cropland in 1978. These crops
included : cotton, sorghum, oats, rye, tobacco, :soybeans, peanuts, hay,
alfalfa, and a variety of vegetables.
In 1978, 52% of the farmland was under pasture. Of the 84,751 acres
of woodlands on farms, 79% is used for pasture. There are an additional
50,375 acres of pasture and rangeland in Levy County.
Of the $12,184,000 in known agricultural sales, 38% is accounted
for by the sale of cattle and calves in 1978; Levy County contained
37,599 cattle and calves in that year. A total number of 8,795 calves
sold for $1,826,000; 8,760 cattle sold for $2,884,000. Of the cattle,
2,367 were fattened on grain, selling for $1,099,000. These fattened
cattle came from 27 farms, were 27% of total cattle sold, and camorised
11% of total cattle farms in the county.
The following chart gives a perspective cn the composition of cattle
farms in Levy County:
Number of Head
1-9 10-19 20-49 50-99 100-199 200-499 500-...
Beef Cows : 63 61 96 51 31 10 5
SCalf Sales : 109 66 64 35 10 2 1
Cattle Sales : 111 46 43 15 9 4 2
Fattened Cattle: 15 2 4 2 3 0 1
As can be seen, the target of the study, farms of less than 100 head,
constitute a majority in the county.
-" 7 '~-, c '
Most of the farmers interviewed had a cow-calf operation.
Herd sizes ranged between 16 and 100. Twenty-five percent of the
operations were small, having 25 or less head of beef. Forty
percent were in the medium range with a herd size of 25 to 50 and
thirty-five percent fell within the 50 to LO0 range. ( I ,i ;
The acreage of pasture from the sample group was from 40 A.
to 415 A. The average pasture area was between 50 and 100 acres.
The stock to pasture area (in acres was between 1:1 and 1:15,
with the average being between 1:5 and 1:5. (cC ,- .
Most of the farmers had some degree of pasture management.
This included such things as application of fertilizer or lime,
rotation, and mowing. Forty-five percent had a high degree of
pasture management, utilizing two or more improvement techniques.
Thirty percent had a medium degree of management (less than two
practices), and fifteen percent made no improvements on their
available pasture area.
Sixty percent of the interviewees did not utilize controlled
breeding. The reasons were numerous and included lack of sufficient
land and series of crols fences, not enough management time,
lack of interest, and that cattle were only pets.
Ninety-five percent of the cattlemen treated their herd for
external and internal parasites. Methods for external pest control
were ear tags, dust bags, sprays, and pour-ons. Some farmers
expressed concern that flies seemed to build up a resistance to
repeated use of ear tags.
Sixty-five percent did not use implants in their calves.
Two farmers explained that they did not use them because they had
heard that they might cause cancer. Others did not think the
implants would be economical because they were not creep feeding
their calves, but were leaving them on mother's milk until sale.
Of the 35% that had used implants, some of them had only used them
in young steers whom they were preparing for show.
Ninety of the farmers had used supplements for their herds.
These supplements included molasses, protein blocks, mineral,
range pellets, salt blocks, and hay. Some of the cattlemen
complained of the high cost of supplements and felt that misin-
formation had been given them ay salespersons, particularly about
how much the animals would consume from lick tanks and consequently
the cost of that system. When asked the protein content of the
supplement currently in use, many did not know. A strong
preference was detected for round hay bales over square ones.
On 80% of the farms labor was supplied by family members only, this
often was composed of only a husband and wife. Some only worked
their cattle on weekends or had to do all the major labor at one
time during the year.
Sixty-five percent of the farms had squeeze chutes. When those
that did not have such facilities were asked about the feasability
of renting a squeeze chute one farmer replied that he would not
want to do this for two reason: 1) He doesn't always know far
enough in advance when he will require one in order to reserve
its use and 2) He was afraid of damage being done th the chute
Fifty percent of the farmers kept no written records. Most
of these people claimed that they know their cattle by name,
therefore they did not have to keep complicated records. Of the
35% that did keep records, four expressed a need for a home
computer to help them with their enterprises.
Only 15% of the farmers claimed that they were leaving the
business. The reason most often given for getting out was old age/
Seventy-five percent of the households had at least one person
working full-time off the farm. Some of the occupations were
policeman, professor at UF, railroad worker and nurses. Other
sources of income included Social Security and retirement pensions.
RUtAiR. OF IAtfjAS 1NZ S5it. CLASS
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