Florida food and resource economics

Material Information

Florida food and resource economics
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Place of Publication:
Gainesville Fla
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Creation Date:
September 1985
Physical Description:
v. : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture -- Statistics -- Florida ( nal )
Agriculture -- Periodicals -- Florida ( nal )
Agricultural extension work -- Periodicals -- Florida ( nal )
Agricultural extension work -- Periodicals -- Florida ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Periodicals -- Florida ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Statistics -- Periodicals -- Florida ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )
periodical ( marcgt )


Dates or Sequential Designation:
no. 1- Nov./Dec. 1974-
Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. This item may be protected by copyright but is made available here under a claim of fair use (17 U.S.C. §107) for non-profit research and educational purposes. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact Digital Services ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
000301142 ( ALEPH )
01525473 ( OCLC )
ABS7625 ( NOTIS )

Full Text
The publications in this collection do not reflect current scientific knowledge or recommendations. These texts represent the historic publishing record of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences and should be used only to trace the historic work of the Institute and its staff. Current WFAS research may be found on the Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS)
site maintained by the Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University of Florida

September-October 1985 No. 66
Christina H. Gladwin*
If we don't change our programs, we're going to see small and medium farmers go out of business. People might say "So what?" Well, the question should be
debated whether 1000 farmers are enough. Was Jefferson right when he argued for as wide a distribution of landownership as possible?
(Ex-Secretary of Agriculture Robert Bergland,
quoted by the Washington Post Jan. 14, 1981)
Introduce ion
The contribution of farm women and family labor change have caused an oversupply problem in U.S.
to the survival of the family farm in the United agriculture for decades. As a result, in the
States has been an Ignored aspect of farm entrepre- absence of an "export boom," farms have decreased in
neurship until recently. In many agricultural number and increased in size. Between the years
states, however, the women's Involvement in farming 1935 and 1974, the total number of farms in the U.S.
has Increased as Inflationary pressures on land, declined from 6.5 to 2.7 million, while the average
equipment, and annual operating expenses in the size of farm Increased from 140 to 400 acres.
1970s forced the male, able-bodied farmer on the
small to medium-sized family farm to seek off-farm Other, more subtle changes in the structure of
work to support the family and subsidize the farm. agriculture were occurring in the late 1970s,
The co-managerial role of the farm woman became even however. Concentration In food production became so
more Important in the late 1970s, when part-time extensive that "superfarms," defined here as farms
farming and off-farm work became more and more with at least $500,000 of gross sales, Increased
Important for the medium-sized and large farms in their share of net farm Income from 24 percent in
the U.S. Recent data show that on average, off-farm 1970 to 48 percent in 1982 (Zulauf, 1984). Small
Income became more Important than farm income for farms with gross sales of less than $40,000 on the
medium-sized farms with gross sales of $40,000 to other hand, decreased their share of net farm Income
$100,000; for large farms with gross sales of from 14.5 to 0 percent during the same time period
$100,000 to $200,000, off-farm Income became one- (Zulauf, 1984).
third of total family income in the period from 1970 The present farm crisis of the 1980s, which
to 1982 (Zulauf, 1984). threatens to put between 13 and 33 percent of the
The dependence of medium and large farms on nation's farmers out of business, can only acceleroff-farm Income is only one of the "structural ate the trend toward more farms with a part-time
changes" which have changed the nature of the family farming head. This is because most farms at risk
farm-since the 1930s. Inelastic demand for food (i.e., with debts amounting to over 40 percent of
coupled with supply shifts due to technological their assets) are in the $50,000 to $500,000 sales
*Dr. Christina H. Gladwin is an Associate Professor in the Food and Resource Economics Department,
University of Florida, and a member of Ford Tractors' Agricultural Women's Council in 1984-85.

categories. Clearly, they are medium-sized to large Table 1. Average hours/week of farm work, off-farm
farms which usually have a full-time farming head. work, housework, and garden work of men
Therefore, part-time farms with off-farm income are and woman.
in less financial danger than full-time farms. The
farm woman's Involvement on the farms which survive Baker and Gilchrist Counties 0n48)
the "shake-out" of the 1980s should therefore
Increase, as more farm women substitute for their Men Women
men who are absent due to off-farm work. Average hours/week
Indeed, I argue that the co-managerial role of of farm work 34.7 21.8
the farm wife In the part-time farming sector must Average hours/week
assume a new Importance If the family farm Is to of off-farm work 20.2 17.4
survive "the export bust" period of the 1980s and
make any Impact on the food supply system that Subtotal: .54.9 39.2
reaches the U.S. consumer. The entire agricultural Average hours/week
community (land grant university, extension service, of housework 1.9 26.52
financial Institutions, Input suppliers like Ford
Tractor, local churches, and extended family main- Year-round total: 56.8 65.72
bers) should recognize the growing role and contri- Average hours/week of
button of the farm wife as agricultural producer on spring-summer garden work* 5.1 12.35
the family farm, and should give her access to
Information about Inputs and markets, training from Garden-season total: 61.9 78.07
the extension service, credit, land, and new tech-*ApisolInte8o10wksfthsrng nology necessary to co-manage the farm. sAppmes oadnlying thea8so1 ek f h pig
What Do the Data Say? tedly less accurate than time-use diaries, a prohibIn addition to Informal evidence of farm itively-expensive method, the data agree with other
women's involvement as farmers as well as mothers estimates of the average time women spend In house(such as the recent f Ilms, Country The River and work (Vanek, 1974).
Places In the Heart), do available data support the Results show that, although North Florida men
hypothesis that women are now doing more of the spend more time doing farm work (35 hours per week)
farming? Unfortunately, women farmers have been so and off-farm work (20 hours per week) than women,
"Invisible" In the past that some of the data have North Florida women on average spend 22 hours per
been contradictory until recently. For example, the week on f arm tasks and 17 hours per week on of f-f arm
U.S. Census of Agriculture undercounts farm wives as work. In addition, women spend 26 hours per week on
operators by allowing only one family member to be housework and during the spring-summer garden
listed as "the main operator." Since most couples season, an additional 12 hours per week gardening
list the husband as operator, the census finds only and processing garden produce. Men therefore spend
5.4 percent of operators to be women. By contrast, more time farming than women; however, women's farm
when the USDA 1980 National Farm Woman Survey asked hours are substantial and amount to, on average, a
2,500 women by phone If they considered themselves part-time job. When compared to previous national
to be "a main operator," 55 percent answered yes estimates of women's farm work of 11 hours per week,
(Jones and Rosenfeld, 1981). as reported by time-use diaries In the 1920s and
1930s (Vanek, 1974), it appears that on average, the
North Florida farm wife Is farming more now.
Evidence from North Florida
Also In an open-ended way, the same women were
Data collected from personal Interviews with asked about their perceptions of themselves, In
North Florida farm wives in 1981 were more In line order to test the strength of the belief, "He's the
with the USDA phone survey. Data f rom Baker and farmer, she's the helper." Results showed that 42
Gilchrist Counties In Table 1 show men's and women's percent of the women considered themselves to be
contributions on four work dimensions: farm work, farmers; while 14 percent thought of themselves as
off-farm work, garden work, and housework. The data part-time farmers. Eight percent said they were
were collected (in an open-ended way) by asking retired from farming, and 36 percent thought of
women to recall the major tasks they performed themselves as farmers' wives. In this sample at
throughout the year and the time required to com- least, more women considered themselves to be
plete those tasks. Although this method Is admit- farmers than farmers' wives. As women participate

more In farming, they will tend to think of them- Table 2. Farm Women's Involvement In Farm Tasks.
selves as farmers rather than just helpers.
1980 USDA Survey (n=2,500)
Percentage Responding
Evidence from National Tim Series Data Regular Duty Occasionally
Although the hours-of-work data from North Taking care of Garden 74% 14%
Florida suggest that farm women are farming more Bookkeeping, Maintaining
now, it Is Impossible to distinquish regional Records, etc. 61 17
variation from change over time with these data, Running Farm Errands 47 38
because the 193Os data were national rather than Taking Care of Farm
Florida-specif ic data. Fortunately, data from the Animals 37 29
1984 Ford Tractor Survey of 3,300 North American Supervising Farm Work of
farm women fill the gap, because these data are Other Family Members 24 26
directly comparable with the 1980 USDA survey of Harvesting Crops 22 2
2,500 U.S. farm women. Trying to verify the results Making Major Purchases of
of the earlier USDA phone survey, the Ford Tractor Farm Equipment and
mall-out survey asked questions about the type and Supplies 14 23
location of the farm, the type of work the farm Supervising Work of
woman did on a regular and occasional basis, the Hired Labor 11 2
kinds of decisions made jointly or separately by Doing Field Work without
farm husband and wife, and the informational, Machinery 17 25
service, and dealership needs of the farm family Plowing, Discing, Cultiregarding farm tractors. vating, or Planting 11 26
Marketing Products 15 18
In the rows of Table 2 are I sted the tasks on
a farm that a woman may perform on a regular basis 1984 Ford Tractor Survey
(column 2), an occasional basis (column 3), or (n=3,300)
never. (Because "never" Is a residual category, the Percentage Responding
percentage of women who never perform the task Is Regular Duty Occasionally
omitted from the table, for brevity.) The data
report the 1980 USDA results on the top, and the Taking care of Garden 76% 18%
1984 Ford Tractor results on the bottom. Bocikkeeping, Maintaining
The results of both surveys show that farm Records, etc.692
women regularly take care of the garden, do the TakningCae Farmad514
bookkeeping and financial work, act as chauffeur and Taknmas 44 41r
gofer and run for spare parts, and take care of farm Supervising Farm Work of
animals. A comparison of the survey results, Other Family Members 25 46
moreover, show that more women are regularly doing Harvesting Crops 22 49
these tasks In 1984 than In 1980. In addition, both Making Major Purchases of
surveys show that occasionally, women supervise farm Farm Equipment and
work, harvest crops, make major purchases of equip- Sple 43
ment, and do field work without machinery. Only Suppvisn 14r 36
one-third of the women, however, occasionally do the Hired Labor 13 43
plowing or discing, and market their products. In Doing Field Work without
1984, more women are doing all these tasks on an Machinery 13 48
occasional basis. Clearly, women are very Involved Plowing, Discing, CultiIn farm work, and that Involvement is increasingly vating, or Planting 10 37
Other results of the Ford Tractor survey show, Marketing Products 12 30
In agreement with the USDA study, that 54 percent of the women consider themselves one of the main operators on the farm; while only three percent are Conclusion
sole operators, and 43 percent are not operators. In addition, data not presented here show that In general, the results support the hypothesis
women's Increased Involvement In farm tasks also that farm women are now doing more of the farming.
leads to an Increased participation In farm decision This Is partly due to the fact that, more and more,
making, as one would expect. they are substituting for their spouses who must
subsidize depressed farm Incomes with off-farm

Income. It may also be partly due to technological alongside their men In the production of laborchange In domestic work within the home. Because of intensive joint commodities like tobacco, cotton, or
modern home appliances, time spent doing housework vegetables, as used to be the norm.
has decreased from 50 to 26 hours per week during the last 50 years (Vanek, 1974). This released time has allowed modern farm women to Increase either Acknowledgments
their farm work or their off-farm work. Although
some women choose to spend that time off the farm, This paper was made possible by the gracious
In the North Florida sample an equal proportion of hospitality of Florida farm women in Baker and
them choose to farm. As a result, more and more Gilchrist Counties, the cooperation of John Chuchman
farm women think of themselves as "farmers" rather and Rick Kinder of Ford Tractor, the help of Dr.
than "farmer's wives." Masuma Downie and Janet Weston, and funds provided
What do these results Imply? If the family by National Science Foundation Grant BNS-8218894.
farm with gross sales of less than $500,000 is to survive structural change and concentration forces References
In the 1980s, it will be as a part-time farm. Because men now have more opportunities to secure
hig-paingofffar jos, oreof hemwil be Jones, Calvin, and Rachel Rosenfeldo American Farm
h igh-pay ing off-farm jobs, m re of them w ill be W m n i d n s f o a i n l S r e C i
absent from the farm, leaving the farming to the Woen: lindis f National sr. Chiwomen. The survival of the family farm thus cago, Illinois: National Opinion Research Cenrequires that women farmers be recognized and supported as farmers and not Just helpers or farmVanek, Joanne. "Time Spent In Housework." Scieners' wives. While every woman wants to build a tific American 23(5): pp. 116-120.
home, the average woman's contribution of 22 hours per week of farm work should be recognized at least Zulauf, Carl R. "Changes In Selected Characterisas much as her 26 hours per week of housework. The tics of U.S. Farms During the 1970s and Early
agricultural community must realize that more women 1980s: An Investigation Based on Current and
farmers are substituting for male heads of household Constant Dollar Sales Categories." Columbus,
who are absent due to off-farm work, and so are taking more and more of the responsibility for the Ouio: oi ae urSi og Det oAriu
rurai Economics and Rural Sociology, ESO 1146, farm. In contrast, fewer women are still working 1985.
Articles appearing in Florida Food and d
Address editorial Coiants or corre- Resource Economics may be reproduced This publc document wa promlgat d spondance concerning address or mail- in whole or in part without special at an annual coat of $150.20, or 7.5 ing to L.C. Polopolus and J.. Simp" permission. Newspapers. periodicals, cants per copy, to ginve research oeson, Editors. 1125 McCarty Hall, Food and other publications are encouraged suits and economic information on and Resource Economics Department, to reprint articles which would be of Florida food and agricultural industUniversity of Florida, Gainesville, interest to their readers. Credit is ries.
Florida 32611. requested if information is reprinted.
tbod md hsouwce !owao s 1epsrbelC
1125 McCarty h
University of Flords
Tstitute of 16o and ftrcultunal Scisces
Gsainesvie, IL 32611