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 IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
CHARACTERISTICS OF FLORIDA'S SMALL FARMS*
For many years the number of farms in the U.S. has been decreasing as
many farms (mostly small) have been absorbed by other small farms which have
become much larger and more specialized. Even so the large majority of
today farms are small. Let's look at some statistics. Back in 1960 re-
latively few farms in the nation had gross sales of over $100,000, but to-
day the number is up eight-fold, about a third of which is due to higher
prices. The number of farms selling less than $5,000 per farm annually have
decreased about one-half since 1960, yet they still make up about 40% of U.S.
farms. About two-thirds of the farms in the nation sell less than $20,000
per year of farm products (considered "small" by USDA). This continuing
problems of small farms have recently demanded and received new attention
fro;ii universities and federal agencies throughout the nation.
Small farms are concentrated in the southern states (Figure 1), with
highest concentrations-in the Appalachian area (West Virginia, Tennessee, South
Carolina) and Mississippi and Alabama. But Florida, like many other states,
has its share of small farms, with about 3 out of 4 farmers receiving less
than $20,000 income from farm product sales in 1974.
The widespread small farm problem and the plight of family farms through-
out the nation, plus the loss of agricultural lands to other uses have caused
recent nationwide groundswells (both within and outside agriculture) about
(1) the continued well being of small farmers, and (2) the nation's future
ability to produce a plentiful supply of food and fiber. The widespread con-
cern for family farms and small farms is evidenced by the many articles in
newspapers and journals throughout the nation, and by the recent nation-wide
series of "listening" conferences on small farmer problems.
*Clarence D. Edmond, Director, Center for Community and Rural Development,
IFAS, University of Florida, Statement presented to the House Agricultural?
Committee, Tallahassee, FL, January 7, 1980.
The Percent of Farms With Annual Sales of Less Than $20,000
by State in 1974, United States. ( 1974 Census of Agriculture)
With all the recent concern, meetings, and writings regarding small
farmers, there is still relatively little information specifically related to
small farmers. Very little research actually pinpoints or defines the small
farmer and his problems. Further, there is no easy or quick way to identify
or separate the small farmer from the large farmer, except by farm survey or
by letting the farmer himself decide. However, some definition of the small
farmer is needed to help determine the importance of the small farmer pro-
blem and to provide some general characteristics of "small" farming operations.
Thus, the remainder of this paper will be devoted to discussing 1) the extent
of the small farmer problem in Florida, 2) suggesting some small farm defi-
nitions, and 3) supporting small farm demonstrations as a basic educational
tool for improving small farmer knowhoww", income, and level of living. Re-
member the old saying? "Give a man a fish and you have to feed him each day;
but teach him how to fish, and he can feed himself for the rest of his life."
THE EXTENT-OF THE SMALL FARM PROBLEM IN FLORIDA
By any definition, many of Florida's farms are small. But to get a
better perspective of the small farms, let's look at Florida's farms by sales
classes and kinds of farm products sold by size of farm. These show some
interesting differences in characteristics.
Florida Farms by Sales Classes
In 1974 the Census of Agriculture listed 32,466 farms in Florida (Table 1).
Of these farms, over 1 out of 3 had sales of less than $2,500, while 3 out of
4 had sales of less than $20,000. Only 1 out of 6 reported sales of over
$40,000, but they accounted for 90% of farm products sold. This points up the
"commercial" importance of the "few" large farms and the "social" importance
of the "many" small farms.
It is often thought that many of the small farm operators in Florida are
black. This is not the case. The 1974 Census shows that the percentage of
farm operators who were white exceeded 95% in all sales classes (Table 1).
SELECTED DATA FOR FARMS BY ANNUAL SALES CLASS
$2500 -qq4Q1CQ 19Y
,, Total Number of Farms, 1974
7 Farm Operators Percent White
7 Percent of Total Farms, 1974
7 Percent of Market Value of
Agricultural Products Sold
Percent of Production Expenses
Percent of Value of Land and
Percent of Market Value of
Machinery and Equipment
Percent of Total Estimated Value
of Machinery and Equipment
Percent of All Automobiles
a/ Includes "Abnormal Farms" not classified by value of annual sales.
SOURCE: United States Bureau of the Census. 1974 Census of Agriculture, State and County Data,
Florida, Volume 1, Part 9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
- FLORIDA 1974
Field experience shows that many of the small farmers are short on
education, finances, knowledge of improved practices, and management skills.
Many work.off the farm to supplement their limited net farm income. On the
average, farm expenses take about two-thirds of the sales leaving about one-
third of farm sales as net farm income.
Florida's small farmers not only receive low net farm income, but they
also receive a relatively small share of government farm program payments.
Although farmers receiving less than $40,000 in sales made up 75%
of all farmers in 1974, theyreceived only 18% of "total government farm pro-
gram payments" (Table 2).
It is often thought that many small farmers and few larger farmers work
off the farm. This is partially true in that off-farm work is more important
to small farmers; however, many larger farmers also work "off-farm". In 1974,
the frequency of off-farm work (1-149 days + 150 days or more) decreased
steadily as farm size increased from 78% for farmers with sales of less
$2,500 to 32% for farmers with sales of $40,000 or more (Table 2).
The percentage of farm operators reporting 1-149 days of off-farm work
was about equal for all income classes, running from 10 to 11%. In contrast,
a considerably higher percentage of the smaller farmers reported working off
the farm for 150 days or more. This varied from about 2 out of 3 for the
sales classes below $5,000 to 1 out of 5 for the group with sales of $40,000
or more (Table 2).
Although the frequency of off-farm income was greater for smaller farms,
the amount of off-farm income received per farm of those reporting on off-farm
work tended to be more even (Table 3): Nearly 80% of the farmers with sales
of less than $10,000 received off-farm income of $5,000 or more. But, 2 out
of 3 of the largest farms (sales of $40,000 or more) also received $5,000 or
more of off-farm income.
SELECTED DATA FOR FARMS BY ANNUAL SALES CLASS FLORIDA 1974
Total-Number of Farms, 1974
Percent reporting on their
Of those reporting, % reporting:
150 days or more
Percent of total farm related
SPercent of total government
farm program payments
-Percent of total farm related
income resulting from government
36.8 44.8 56.7 68.0
11.0 z 10.25 o10.7 Uz3 10.0 l
5. 45, 32.53 20
100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
a/ Refers only to individual or fami
ly operations and partnerships.
SOURCE: United States Bureau of the Census. 1974 Census of Agriculture, State and County Data,
Florida, Volume 1, Part 9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
TABLE 3. SELECTED DATA FOR FARMS BY
All Farms a/ Less than $2500- $5000- $10000 $20000 $40000 or
$2500 $4999 $9999 $19999 $39999 more
-Percent of Farmers Reporting
" Any Off-Farm Income, 1974 N/A 82.7 70.1 67.8 61.6 54.9 47.9
Percent of Farmers Reporting
Off-Farm Income with:
SOff-farm income greater than
farm sales 95,9 --- .
Off-farm income less than farm
sales 4.1 --
>Off-farm income less than $5000 N/A 20.2 21.8 24.5 29.1 34.0
O7ff-farm income $5000 or more N/A 79.8 78.2 75.5 70.9 66.0
TOTAL 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Percent of Off-Farm Income from:
Nonfarm related business N/A 21.3 19.2 17.8 21.1 26.6
Wages, salaries, commissions and tips N/A 61.1 63.3 58.7 53.1 41.1
Interest, dividends, royalties or rent
of nonfarm property N/A 11.6 11.4 17.4 21.8 29.3
Federal social security, pensions, etc. N/A 6.0 6.1 6.1 4.9 3.1
TOTAL 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Comprehensive data of off-farm income is not available for farms with sales of less than $2500.
SOURCE: United States Bureau of the Census. 1974 Census of Agriculture, State and County Data,
Florida, Volume 1, Part 9. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.
ANNUAL SALES CLASS FLORIDA 1974
Wages, salaries, etc., composed the largest source of off-farm income for
all sales 'classes of farms but this source was relatively more important to the
smaller farms. Conversely income from "Non-farm business" and "interest,
dividends, etc." were both much more important to the larger farms.
From the data reviewed, one could conclude that off-farm income is more
important to small farmers, but that large farmers also depend quite heavily
upon off-farm income. Off-farm income is important to all sales classes of
farms in Florida.
Kind of Farm Products Sold as Related to Size
Table 4 shows the types of farm products sold in 1974 and how the mix of
products varied for the various sales classes of farms in Florida. Although
many persons think of Florida's small farmers as growers of vegetables and
fruits, the data show that they depend heavily upon "cattle and calves" for
sales. Farmers with less than $2',500 sales received over half of their farm
sales from "cattle and'calves" compared to a little over one-third from
three other categories combined ("fruits, nuts and berries", "grains and
other field crops", and "vegetables, sweet corn, and melons"). The next
larger sales class ($2,500-$4,999) still received their highest percentage
of income from "cattle and calves"; but, it was only slightly larger than
the income from "fruits, nuts and berries". "Grains and other field crops"
came in third and "nursery products" made a poor fourth.
Note that for the sales group of $5,000 to $9,999, "fruits, nuts and
berries" were by far the most important sales source, with "cattle and
calves" ranking second and "grains and other field crops" third.
For the sales group of $10,000 to $19,999 "fruits, nuts and berries"
maintained first place by even a wider margin, while "cattle and calves"
barely exceeded "grains and other field crops".
For the two larger sales groups, "fruits, nuts and berries" were most
important by quite a margin, with "grains and other field crops" ranking
important by quite a margin, with "grains and other field crops" ranking
TABLE 4. SELECTED DATA FOR FARMS BY ANNUAL SALES CLASS FLORIDA
Item Less than
Total Number of Farms, 1974 32,466
Percent of Total
Percent of Market Value resulting
Fruits, nuts, berries
Grains & other field crops
Vegetables, sweet corn, melons
Nursery & greenhouse products
Cattle and calves
a/"Abnormal.Farms' are not classified by value of annual sales, thus are not included.
SIncludes all crops and hay.
Includes all livestock and livestock products.
- Includes all livestock and livestock products.
SOURCE: United States Bureau of the
Florida, Volume 1, Part 9.
Census. 1974 Census of
Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Agriculture, State and County Data,
Government Printing Office, 1977.
second. Although "cattle and calves" ranked third for the $20,000 to $39,999
sales group, it ranked seventh for the highest sales group.
Note that very few of the operators with sales of less than $40,000 re-
ported income from "dairy products" and "poultry". Thirty to forty years ago
these two enterprises were more or less synonymous with small farms. Not so
today. At least, in Florida, these two types of production are associated
with the larger farms.
The above information on the relationship of size of farm and kinds of
products sold sheds light on the types of help that small farmers need most.
It can be surmised that many small farmers in Florida could be helped most
significantly by providing them with more efficient production practices
associated with "cattle and calves". The fact that "cattle and calves" are
either first or second for all sales classes of less than $20,000 points up
the need for an intensive effort in this particular field. The data also
support the same type of intensive training and demonstration work for those
small farmers receiving most of their income from "fruits, nuts and berries"
and "grains and other field crops". However, since citrus is such an important
crop in Florida, it is likely that the "fruits, nuts,and berries" category
is more important to southern Florida, while "grains and other field crops"
is more important to north Florida.
Data in Table 5 are somewhat condensed from information shown in Table 4.
Some of the sales categories are combined to more explicitly show the rank in
importance of the various types of products sold for each sales class of farms.
Note that the "Smallest Farms" group includes the two, smallest categories
in Table 4 and that the "Small Farms" category in Table 5 includes the two
middle categories (sales classes of $5,000 $9,999 + $10,000 $19,999)
in Table 4. The two larger categories in Table 5 remain the same as in Table 4.
Grouping the farms as shown in Table 5 provides relatively homogenous
mixes of types of products sold by si' of farm. Note that "cattle and calves".
TABLE 5. RANK OF FARM PRODUCT SALES BY FARM SIZE FLORIDA 1974 a/
Smallest Farms (Sales of less than $5,000)-/
Cattle & Calves
Fruits, Nuts, Berries
Grains & Other Field Crops
Nursery & Greenhouse
Vegetables, Corn, Melons
Medium Farms (Sales of $20,000-$39,999)
Fruits, Nuts, Berries
Grains & Other Field Crops
Cattle & Calves
Nursery & Greenhouse
Vegetables, Corn, Melons
Small Farms (Sales of $5,000 $19,999)
1) Fruits, Nuts, Berries (37%)
2) Cattle & Calves (21%)
3) Grains & Other Field Crops (17%)
4) Nursery & Greenhouse ( 8%)
5) Vegetables, Corn, Melons ( 4%)
Large Farms (Sales of $40,000 or more)
Fruits, Nuts, Berries
Grains & Other Field Crops
Poultry & Products
Nursery & Greenhouse
Cattle and Calves
a/ Source: Table 4
Percentages are estimated from data in Table 4.
are of much more importance to the smaller size farms than they are to the
larger ones accounting for nearly half of the sales for the "Smallest Farms",
but accounting for only 7% of sales for the largest size farms. Conversely,
"fruits, nuts and berries" were either first or second for each size of farms
shown in Table 5. "Grains and other field crops" ranked third or second for
four classes of farms.
Although it is generally thought that "ornamental horitculture crops"
and "vegetables" offer excellent opportunities for small farmers, they were not
an important source of sales to most small farms in 1974. This, of course,
does not necessarily mean that these crops have low potential for small farmers,
Rather, it may mean that demonstrating the feasibility of these enterprises for
small farmers may be needed.
Thus, the data presented in Table 5 suggest that two modes of assistance
to small farmers would be considered: One mode consists of improving operator
management, production, and marketing skills in those farm enterprises which
have typically produced most of the small farmers' sales (cattle for example).
The other mode consists of encouraging the small farmer to adopt other types
of enterprises for which the future seems especially bright (such as vegetables
and ornamentals) and become proficient in production and marketing them. Both
modes should receive considerable attention so that small farmers might be
able to better evaluate their potential and then obtain the necessary training
to become proficient in those enterprises showing the greatest potential for
their particular farm.
SMALL FARM DEFINITIONS
Over the years many attempts have been made to define farmers, farms,
family farms, and small farms. The Census definition of a farm has changed
several times since the first farm census was made, and none so far has been
completely satisfactory for all persons concerned. Likewise all attempts to
define a small farm have met with similar criticisms and limitations. Even
so, perhaps another attempt should be made to help guide small farm research
and extension iork in Florida. Small farms could be classified according to
acres in the farm, labor required, sales class only, sales class plus off-farm
income, net farm income, total income of family, others, or any combination of
these. All have limitations.
Although not the official definition, for convenience USDA seems to have
settled on sales class only, with farms receiving less than $20,000 in sales
being classed as small. Many states seem to have followed this lead. Some
other examples of definitions by "sales" follow:
1) The Texas small farm program gives preference to farmers with
gross agricultural sales under $5,000 per year.(l)
2) Missouri limits its small farm program to farmers with less
than $10,000 annual sales who are under 60 years of age and
who have been farming for 4 years or more.(1)
3) Florida's Small Farm and Home Gardening program was limited
to farmers with less than $10,000 gross sales per year.(2)
4) A 14 southern state study used the USDA "working" definition -
small farms vire limited to those with sales of less than $20,000
Many other studies use the "less than $20,000 sales" criterion. It is
simple and data on sales classes are readily available. But, such a definition
has major disadvantages such as: (1) many farmers (small as well as large) do
receive a substantial part of their net income from off-farm sources; and (2)
"sales" do not very accurately indicate net farm income. Although determining
farm size by "sales class" plus "off-farm income" is more desirable than just
sales class only, it still has serious limitations. Again, the value of sales
does not necessarily indicate net farm income. And of course, neither net
farm income nor off-farm income is readily available for local areas.
Each year the USDA takes a sample of farms for the nation to determine "net
farm income before inventory adjustments", "off-farm income," and "total net in-
come" for the various sales classes of farms (Table 6). Note that while net farm
income (Col. 5) increases as expected with the size of farm, off-farm income ('Col. 8)
T ABLE 6. U.S. AVERAGE INCOME PER FARM, 1977
Sales Net farm income Off-Farm Total income including
Value of Sales Class Number of before inventory Income nonmoney income from
Number Farms adjustment farm food and housing
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8 ((9) .((10) (11) (12) (13)
Thousands % Dollars Rank % Dollars Rank % Dollars -Rank %
All sales classes 2,706 100 7,439 .39 11,596 .61 19,035 100
$100,000 and over 1 162 6.0, 38,310 1 .80 9,635 4 .20 47,946 1 100
$40,000 to $99,999 2 348 12.9 18,502 2 .75 6,011 7 .25 24,513 2 100
$20,000 to $39,999 3 321 11.9 9,993 3 .59 6,956 6 .41 16,949 3 100
$10,000 to $19,999 4 311 11.5 4,987 4 .35 9,466 5 .65 14,453 7 100
$ 5,000 to $ 9,999 5 302 ,\' 11.2 2,696 5; .18 12,179 3 .82 14,875 6 100
$ 2,500 to $ 4,999 6 304 11.2 1,508 7 .09 14,559 2 .91 16,067 5 100
Less than $2,500 7 958 ,35.4 1,518 6 .09 15,077 1 .91 16,595 4 100
SOURCE: Farm Income Statistics USDA, ESCS, Statistical Bulletin No. 609, July 1978.
decreases with the size of the farm up through the sales class of $20,000 to
$39,999 and then apparently increases. As a result of this negative relation-
ship between net farm income and off-farm income, "total income" per farm
(Col. 11) tends to be rather stable at around $14,500 to nearly $17,000 for
all classes of farms with sales below $40,000. With such information, one might
ask: "Should we concentrate our efforts on farms with the smallest farm sales?"
The answer is: "Yes, if we are interested in farm sales only. But, if we are
interested in net farm income or the welfare of the small farm family (that is,
its total net income), it would seem more appropriate to focus our efforts on
farmers with sales of less than $40,000, since net "total income" is about
equal for all sales classes below this level.
Another definition (which would not require field work) is to define small
farms as those which qualify for Farmers Home Administration and ASCS small
farm assistance. For example Florida's ASCS definition reads:
"A low-income farmer is a farmer who, as determined by the COC, is
a small producer who is largely dependent on the farm or ranch for
his livelihood and whose prospective income and financial resources
for the current year are such that he would not reasonably be ex-
pected to perform needed conservation practices at the rates of
cost-sharing applicable to other farmers and ranchers in the county.
In making such determinations, the COC shall take into consideration
such factors as the size and type of farming operations, estimated
net worth, estimated gross family farm income, estimated family off-
farm income, number of dependents, unusual expenses such as those
resulting from illness, misfortune, or disaster, and other factors
affecting the individual's ability to contribute to the cost of con-
servation practices. "/-
1/Payne, Clyde R., State Executive Director, Florida State ASCS Office,
personal letter, Gainesville, FL, dated September 18, 1979.
A limitation to such definitions might be the proportion of small farm
operators who do not use Farmers Home Administration and/or ASCS services.
The relative importance of this limitation could be estimated after the 1979
Farm Census is available.
A small farm definition based on "total net income" would be desirable
from a "family" point of view, but such information is available only through
on site research. Such research would be rather expensive and certainly
time-consuming. Perhaps an even more desirable definition would take into
account the relative size or scale of farming as well as the total family in-
come. These and creteria for family labor and management input are included
in the current official USDA definition(1):
-- Family net income from all sources (farm and nonfarm) is below
the median nonmetropolitan income of the state,
-- The family is dependent on farming for a significant, though
not necessarily a majority, of their income, and
-- Family members provide most of the labor and management.
But this definition, also, would require on-site determination. Therefore,
apparently all USDA publications use the definition of a small farm as one
that usually sells less than $20,000 of farm products annually. Although it
can be used as a guide, it leaves out net farm income and off-farm inc -.:
Thus, a more realistic and practical approach to a small farm definition is
Considering all of the material reviewed and the need for a realistic
and practical working definition for small farms in Florida, the following
1) Family income from all sources (farm and nonfarm) is below
the median metropolitan income of the state. ($7,208 in
2) Expected or usual farm product sales are between $1,000
3) The farm family furnishes the controlling part of manage-
4) The farm is considered "small" for type of farm (beef
cattle, vegetable, nursery, etc.) and locality by IFAS/
FAMU agricultural personnel and USDA agencies operating
in the county.
SMALL FARM DEMONSTRATIONS
Small farm demonstrations are not new. They have been a part of
Extension work for years. Other agencies and organizations have also used
them. Although not new, they are usually expensive:which of course limits
their use. Some examples of results of Small Farm demonstrations in various
Missouri Over two thirds of the participants realized increased
farm sales and two-thirds used credit compared to 35% of
Texas "Net farm income increased an average of 48 percent from
1970 to 1974 for small-scale farmers enrolled. Equally
important, there were substantial increases in the number
of participants who also took advantage of other govern-
ment and Extension programs."
Fourteen Southern States Results of working with 4,543 small-
scale farmers included:
1) an increase in sales of more than $2,000 for 12%
of the small farmers;
2) an increase of between $1,000 and $2,000 for 29%,
3) an increase of under $1,000 for 30%.
West Virginia This was initiated in 1970 in two counties, using
Rockefeller funds. It was so successful that as
"Rockefeller funding phased out, the University of West
Virginia assumed full responsibility for the demonstration."
It now operates in nine counties.
Minnesota The results of this "pilot Small Farm Project with pro-
gram assistants funded by the Governor's Rural Development
Council in 1975 was so impressive the State Legislature was
persuaded to provide $75,000 annual funding."
Florida, too, is involved in small farm demonstration. A few examples
Jackson County IFAS and Florida A&M teamed up to start a peanut
demonstration and educational program in 1974, which has
continued each year since that time. In 1973, before the
small farmer program began, the small farmers' yields
averaged 1,692 pounds per acre. As a result of using im-
proved practices, yields increased sharply each year, and
in 1978, yields averaged 2,439 pounds per acre. This 747
pound increase over the 1973 yield was worth about $157
per acre. With an average 12 acre allotment increased
income per farm amounted to $1,882.
Gadsden County IFAS and FAMU worked with two small farmers to
demonstrate the value of using improved practices in
vegetable production. In addition to providing very
valuable demonstrations to other small farmers, these one
-acre plots were qufte profitable to each- cooperator. The
farmer with the one acre southern pea demonstration pro-
duced 240 bushels valued at $1,400. The- farmer with the
one acre of okra sold $1,000 worth of okra.
Ripe Tomato Harvesting for Small Farms Following several years of
testing and development, Dr. Norman Hayslip, a scientist at
the Agricultural Research Center at Ft. Pierce has developed
two machines which apparently will make it feasible for
small farmers to harvest ripe tomatoes for marketing. To
(1) help test the equipment and system, and (2) demonstrate
the equipment and procedures, the Community and Rural Develop-
ment Center in IFAS has made funds available to 1) help "fix
up" the two machines, 2) help finance production and harvest-
ing the ripe tomatoes, and 3) demonstrate the feasibility of
the whole system. The demonstration will be carried out
during the fall and winter of 1979.
The Need for Small Farm Demonstrations
Many researchers will say that their research is as applicable to small
farms as it is to large farms. This, of course, is true as far as technical
recommendations on plant and animal nutrition and health are concerned. That
is, the same mix of nutrients is needed by a plant or an animal, regardless
of the size of farm on which it is grown. The biggest differences in needs
between "small" and "large" farms are educational methods and techniques of
application. For example, large farmers are likely to be much more knowledge-
able about farming and amenable to mass education techniques. Similarly
large farms lend themselves well to aerial spraying for insect control, but
such a method will not work on very small farms. Small beef cattle growers
might not have the large scale up-to-date types of equipment that large
ranchers have, such as large cattle trailers, tractors, gun vaccinating equip-
ment, scales and working corals and chutes. This is true for many other
types of farms.
Also, due to small lots purchased and sold, small farmers tend to pay
more per unit for supplies and equipment and receive less per unit of pro-
Thus, it is easily seen that educational methods and techniques for
applying technical recommendations will need to vary with the agricultural
knowledge level of the farmer and size of farm; therefore, it follows that
research on (1) methods of education for small farmers, (2) techniques of
application for small farms, and (3) techniques of purchasing and marketing
are all very important. If so, what educational approaches best fit small
farmers? What techniques best fit small farms? Gaining new information
and extending it along with other improved practices comprise the essentials
of a small farm program. And, experience has shown that demonstration is an
excellent educational tool, especially in cases where step by step advance-
ment in methods of education are needed, where special or different techniques
of application are required, and where more competitive prices in purchases
and/or sales are needed. It appears that all of these needs are usually
common among small farmers.
Suggestions For Small Farm Demonstrations
Due to the sometimes severe limitations of capital, farming knowhow,
managerial ability, and educational levels associated with small farmers
in Florida; and because of IFAS and FAMU successes with demonstrations for
small farmers, the Florida Rural Development Committee strongly recommends
increased use of "Demonstration Small Farms" as a key means of improving
small farmer knowhoww", income (thus better living conditions), and in-
volvement in community and county affairs.
It seems particularly important that each small farm to be used for
demonstration purposes should be very carefully selected by persons know-
ledgeable of farming and small farms in the area. For whatever type of
farming, the demonstration small farm should be selected on the basis of
the following criteria:
(1) Relative need for the demonstration in the geographic
(2) Geographic distribution of demonstrations they should
not all be concentrated in one area;
(3) Availability of professional expertise to help monitor
and carry out the demonstration;
(4) Availability of a typical small farm and qualified
(5) Conspicuous location so that demonstration can be
seen from a well traveled road;
(6) Ease of access for field days; and
(7) Cost of the demonstration and availability of funds.
Examples of Suggested Small Farm Demonstrations
Many suggestions for small farm demonstrations have been received.
Some of the suggestions are listed below by major categories:
1. Generally applicable to all Small Farms -
1) Demonstration farm or farms in the "persistent low-income
area of west Florida (Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington,
and Calhoun Counties.)
2) Land use based upon soil capabilities.
3) Advantages of soil testing.on small farms.
4) Advantages of cooperative assistance to small farm FmHA
5) Advantages of Cooperatives (farm, health, consumer, etc.)
for small farmers.
6) Feasibility of acidification of irrigation water in
selected areas of North Florida.
7) Nitrogen fixation for small farms.
8) Marketing methods for various types of small farms.
9) Direct marketing through U-Pik, community markets, and
2. Small Livestock Farms -
1) Demonstrations for year-round forage in beef production.
(1) Pasture/silage using improved pastures through the
summer and high yield silage for the winter.
(2) Year-round forage production, including native
pastures and winter grasses and legumes.
(3) Reseeding winter annual forage grasses and legumes
for North Florida winter pasture.
(4) Renovation of perennial grasses with the Florigraze
perennial peanut for winter pasture.
2) High profit techniques in swine production.
3) Growing catfish in raceways.
3. Crops -
1) Small farm insect control by interplanting crops with
plants which inhibit insect damage.
2) Minimum tillage for various types of crops.
3) Using farm biomass for small farm energy needs.
4) Management of non-commercial woodlots for maximum profits
(would include uses of waste as well as other wood products).
5) Advantages of trickle irrigation for selected vegetables.
6) High profit techniques for vegetable production.
7) Machine harvesting of ripe tomatoes.
8) Blueberries and 6ther fruits for fresh markets.
9) Grape production for fresh market and for wine.
10) Weed control in small nurseries.
A national survey shows that 80% of the nation's farmers received a
net income from all sources of less than $17,000 in 1977. The Census of
Agriculture showed that three out of four of Florida's farmers sold less
than $20,000 worth of farm products in 1974, indicating low total income.
Work by IFAS and Florida A&M indicate that the major small farm research
needs may be in (1) methods of education for small farmers, (2) techniques
of carrying out cultural practices, and (3) techniques of purchasing supplies
and selling products.
Also, work by IFAS and Florida A&M show that many of Florida's small
farmers lack the education and finances needed for earning adequate total
family income, even though considerable valuable information, management
skills, and improved practices are available. And, experience has proven
that adoption of these improved practices by small farmers has increased
net income. The major problem has been in getting the small farmers to
adopt the improved practices.
Research has shown that "methods of education" are very important.
Thus simplified, very specific, and visually supported information is being
produced. Much more needs to be done.
Experience has shown that techniques of application need much attention.
That is small equipment and machines discarded by "growing" farmers are not
so readily available any more. Therefore, equipment and machinery, especially
designed for small farms, are needed.
Considerable work has been carried out in helping small farmers develop
systems or techniques for selling products. -Much less has been done in
helping develop a system for purchasing supplies at more reasonable costs.
Much more effort is needed in both areas.
The work carried out by the IFAS/A&M cooperative programs strongly
indicate the value of the on-farm demonstration. Three examples of such
efforts will be presented to you this afternoon. Others could be presented,
and many more are needed. For example, probably several small farm demon-
stations are badly needed in the five-county "Persistent Low-Income Area"
of rural west Florida (Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, and Washington
Counties). A copy of a statement about this five-county area is available
for each of you.
(1) Bay, Ovid, Robert Coleman, Edward Moe, Howard Osborn, & Jerry West
The Science and Education Administration's Research And Extension
Programs For Small Farms, prepared for the Subcommittee on Agri-
culture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies, Committee on
Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, SEA, USDA, March 1,
(2) Carter, Lawrence C.
Extension Small Farm And Home Gardening Programs, 1976-1977,
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida A&M and University
(3) Edmond, Clarence D.
Highlights of the Small Farmer Program in IFAS, Center for
Community And Rural Development, Florida Cooperative Extension
Service, IFAS, University of Florida, April 1979.
(4) Hines, Fred K., David L. Brown, and John M. Zimmer
Social and Economic Characteristics of the Population in Metro
Sand Nonmetro Counties, 1970. -Agricultural Economics Report 272,
Economic Resource Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
(5) Orden, David and Alfa Trivett, A. Benjamin Rippe, Dennis K. Smith,
and Robert Jensen
Small Farms in Florida, Staff Paper SP-78-7, Department of
Agricultural Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University, Blacksburg, February 1978.
(6) Pryor, Shirley
Regional And Residential Impacts Of The Proposed Better-Jobs And
Income Program, USDA, Economics, Statistics, And Cooperatives
Service, ESCS-69, August 1979.
(7) Reimund, Donn A.
Status Of The Family Farm, A Report To The Congress, ESCS, USDA,
(8) Ross, Peggy J., Herman Bluestone, and Fred K. Hines
Indicators of Social Well-Being For U.S. Counties, Rural Development
Resource Report 10., Economics, Statistics, And Cooperatives Service,
(9) Young, John A., and Peter Caday
Small-Scale Farming: A portrait from Polk County, Oregon, Department
of Anthropology, Oregon State University, WRDC Paper #2, August 1979.
-Farm Income Statistics, USDA, Economics, Statistics, And Cooperatives '
Service, Statistical Bulletin No. 609, July 1978.
Local Area Personal Income, 1970-1975, National Technical Information
Services, Springfield, Virginia, 1976.
Remarks prepared for delivery by Secretary of Agriculture Bob
Bergland, before the National Farmers Union Convention, Kansas
City, Missouri, March 12, 1979, USDA, Office of the Secretary
Research, Extension And Higher Education For Small Farms, Ad
Hoc Committee on Small Farms of the Joint Council on Food and
Agricultural Sciences, USDA, Office of the Secretary, October 1,
Rural Development Perspectives, ESCS, USDA, RDP 1, November 1978.
Rural Development Research And Education, Vol. 1, No. 4, Southern
Rural Development Center, Mississippi State, Miss., Summer 1977.
Small-Farm Issues: Proceedings Of The ESCS Small-Farm Workshop,
May 1978, USDA, Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service,
(17) U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Local
Area Personal Income, 1969-1974, Springfield, Virginia, National
Technical Information Services, 1976.
AGRONOMIC CROP PRODUCTION POTENTIALS FOR THE
C. E. DEAN
Historically, most Florida farms could have been considered small
farms under today definition. Most of these farms produced one or
more agronomic commodities. As pressures increased to consolidate acre-
ages into larger units, a shift was made to other commodities.
Traditionally the small farmer in Florida has not utilized agronomic
crops as a major source of income. Most commodities included under this
rather broad classification are grown on too large an acreage and require
too much in the way of expenditures for equipment and associated supplies
to be considered as small farmer enterprises.
Certain commodities, cash crops, as they are called, under a given
set of circumstances, can be utilized and are being used in a small farm
endeaver to provide a portion of the farm income. Crops which are included
under this classification would include the following:
1. Peanuts Peanuts are an allotment-quota crops, which means that
they can be marketed only under the quota system. Allotments are
assigned to a farm and to a particular owner, however, they may be
leased or rented on a yearly basis and transferred within county
units. The successful production of peanuts requires a very high
level of agricultural technology to accomplish the job properly.
For this reason allotment acreages of peanuts are usually consoli-
dated into larger production blocks for efficiency of operation.
This would not necessarily preclude the small farmer from operating
a unit much smaller than the average in Florida. The concept of
contract work might be applicable here. Also, several small farm
operations might band together to purchase the needed production
equipment for use by all.
2. Tobacco Tobacco like peanuts is an allotment quota crop, and is
handled in much the same way as peanuts. The average single allot-
ment size is about 2.5 acres. However, it is the usual practice
for tobacco growers to lease or rent several allotments to provide
a much larger production base. While not as highly mechanized as
peanut production, tobacco does require a considerably outlay for ?
equipment, and usually includes some type of irrigation system.
Small Farm and Direct Marketing
Activities of the
Food and Resource Economics Department
(With Special Reference to
Fruits and Vegetables)
Brief Historical Sketch
The Food and Resource Economics Department of the University of Florida
has been actively involved with small farm management and marketing work
since 1975. Prior to 1975, the Department did carry out research and
extension programs for small farmers, but as an integral part of programs
for agricultural producers of various sizes--small, medium, and large.
Small farm and direct marketing work has been accomplished with several
FRED faculty members working independently, jointly with other economists,
and/or jointly with faculty in other IFAS units. The principal FRED
faculty participants have been Arden Colette, Bryan Wall, Chris Andrew,
and Robert Degner. The resignation of Bryan Wall and the reassignment of
Arden Colette's duties will cause changes in the overall Departmental
effort. However, the importance of the small scale-limited resource
farmer program has been reaffirmed by the Department in recent deliberations.
In addition, the farming systems activities of Visiting Professors Peter
Hildebrand and Elon Gilbert provide strong stimulus to innovative and
effective research and extension programs.
Contracts and Grants
1. Grantor: Ford Foundation
Title: "Preliminary Evaluation of the Agricultural
Cooperative Community Concept for the Foundation's
Office of Program Related Investments"
Date: December 1, 1977 September 30, 1978
Principal Investigator: W. Arden Colette
Non-Industrial Forest Landowners Programs
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
January 3, 1980
Non-industrial forest landowners possess approximately 60 percent of
the 16.2 million acres of forest lands of Florida. These landowners vary
in acreage owned from a few acres up to the thousands. Also, each land-
owner has specific objectives) for ownership varying from fiber production,
recreation, wildlife to investments. In general, these forest lands are
Producing fiber and other forest products at about one-half of their
The School of Forest Resources and Conservation recently initiated
extension programs to provide these landowners with information to improve
management of these lands. These programs include regional landowner
conferences for dessimination of information pertaining to management,
marketing, and harvesting, preparation of slide/tape programs, fact sheets
and the publication of monthly newsletters for county extension agents and
Division of Forestry Foresters. Also, we will conduct in-service training
sessions for county extension agents and county foresters this spring.
During the forthcoming years, we anticipate further development of
extension programs to provide broader and more educational programs for
these landowners. Presently, we have expertise in forest management,
wildlife, range, forest pathology and water management devoted to these
programs on a part-time basis. 1Further information can be obtained from
Dr. Mitch Flinchum, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, 110
Newins-Ziegler Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
SMALL FARMS PROGRAMS IN ANIMAL SCIENCE
1. Beef Demonstration Unit
a. Located at Chipley, Florida in Washington county in area of
persistently low income counties.
b. Farm consists of 150 acres.
c. Brood cow herd of 70 animals.
d. Main purposes to demonstrate beef cattle breeding, production
and management and demonstrate the production and use of forages
in beef cattle production systems.
e. Limited research is conducted in crossbreeding and on the
finishing of calves with the maximum use of forage.
2. Production Testing of Beef Herds
a. An effort is being made to enroll more of the smaller beef
cattle farm units in the production testing program. To do
this, portable scales have been made available to support the
3. Rural Area Development Project for Swine
a. Emphasis was placed on construction of small portable units with
slatted floors, both farrowing units and growing and finishing
units. Plans are available and units are available for inspection
at the Agricultural Research Center at Live Oak.
4. Artificial Insemination Service for Small Swine Operators
a. This service is centered at the Live Oak Research Center and
is designed to help improve the seed stock of small producers.
5. Swine Evaluation Center
a. Located at Live Oak, Florida.
b. This service is very compatible with the small farm operation
and small producers are urged to participate.
6. Statewide Swine Parasite Survey
a. Fecal samples were collected from 661 trucks delivering feeder
pigs to 11 different auction sales during summer of 1979. A
with ten hours of training in February. Landscape design and
installation offers good potential for the trained nursery opera-
tor near the populated areas in northeast Florida.
Three evening sessions were held in Tallahassee, Panama
City and Pensacola in December 1979 to provide training for
small and large retail nursery operators. More than sixty indi-
viduals were involved in these sessions.
A demonstration nursery is maintained at the Agricultural
Research Center in Monticello. The purpose of these plots is
to provide direct comparisons of cultural alternatives. Nursery
operators can compare the effects of specific cultural techni-
ques by observing adjacent treatment plots. The demonstration
nursery contains over 25 treatment plots with 12 plant species.
The plots are toured during biannual horticulture agents meetings
at the center and during the annual field day and seminar for
nursery operators. Also nursery operators may visit the plots
at other times and will receive written material to help them
evaluate treatment effects.
Responses from a survey of the nursery industry in north
Florida are being tabulated at this time. The purpose of the
survey is to characterize the industry in relation to size, di-
versity and marketing channels. Also information is being
compiled on the educational needs of nursery operators and
suggested means of meeting these needs.
Training of vocational horticulture instructors has been
offered for the last two years and will be continued. A need
exists in the nursery industry for individuals with adequate
Animal Health on the Small Rural Farm
.demonstrations of animal health.care to small farmer's with livestock
and companion animals.
These demonstration sessions will provide our students with the
opportunity to relate and communicate with farm folks. Thus, although
the delivery of technically competent services is essential, the job
of the professional does not end there. Each veterinarian is an educator.
He can and should inform clients of services animals need for their well
being and potential production at lower costs on small acreage operations.
In the future, we envision the development of regional group veterinary
practices that will provide complete veterinary services to the Florida
2. Grantor: USDA Federal Extension Service
Title: "Improving Efficiency of Direct Farmer-to-
Consumer Marketing in Florida"
Date: October 1, 1977 September 30, 1978
Principal Investigator: G. Bryan Wall
3. Grantor: USDA, ESCS
Title: "Appraisal of Impacts of Farmer-to-
.Consumer Direct Marketing on Farmers' Financial
Return and Benefits to Consumers"
Date: September 15, 1978 September 30, 1980
Principal Investigators: R. L. Degner and
W. K. Mathis
Publications and Reports
Andrew, Chris 0. "Agricultural Policy Foundation Applied to Small Farm
Credit Concerns," Staff Paper 51, FRED, June 1977.
Colette, W. Arden. Economic Evaluation of the Agricultural Cooperative
Community Concept..as Proposed by the Southern Development Foundation
for the Manatee County Area in West Central Florida, Research Report,
FRED, December 1978.
Colette, W. Arden. "The Relevance of Agricultural Policy Directed Toward
Small Farmers," Staff Paper 58, FRED, August 1977.
Colette, W. Arden. "Small Farm Oriented Agricultural Policy," American
Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol 59, December 1977 (Abstract).
Colette, W. Arden. "Vegetable Crop Production Budgets for Small Farms in
North Florida 1976," Staff Paper 75, FRED, February 1978.
Colette, W. Arden and Edgar Arias. "Regional Terminal Market Growth
Potential for North Florida Produced Vegetables," Proceedings,
Florida State Horticultural Society, Vol 90, 1977.
Colette, W. Arden and G. Bryan Wall. "Evaluating Vegetable Production
for Market Windows as an Alternative for Limited Resource Farmers,"
Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol 10, December 1978.
Colette, W. Arden and G. Bryan Wall. "Is Production for 'Market Windows'
a Viable Alternative for Limited Resource Farmers?" American
Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 60, December 1978 (Abstract).
Colette, W. Arden and G. Bryan Wall.
Atlanta Direct Marketing Workshop.
Small farm Extension educational activities include County Agent training
in vegetable production and marketing. A slide-tape set "Growing Quality
Vegetables for Profit" and a circular "Growing Quality Vegetables for Profit -
An Introduction for Small-scale and Part-time Market Gardeners" were developed
for use by County Agents in their educational programs and for use by growers.
Particular attention has been devoted to those vegetable crops that have
had lower than average yields. Slide-tape sets and circulars were developed
specifically for the audiences representing the majority of growers on okra,
Southern peas, and sweet potato production.
Small-farm research has focused on development of schemes for production
that take advantage of historic state or regional market shortages. The
vegetable market is characterized by gluts and shortages, and when developed
this scheme should obviate this problem. Emphasis is on nearly year-round
production of vegetables of regional importance. Twelve cultivars of broccoli,
cabbage, and cauliflower are grown in a winter sequence and sweet corn, Southern
peas, and sweet potatoes are grown in a summer sequence. Because of market
fluctuations, maximum profitability does not always coincide with maximum yields.
Another small farm vegetable research project is aimed at maximizing
land, labor, and equipment resources by multiple cropping twelve different
vegetable crops. The objective of this research is to increase profitability
of small vegetable farms by full utilization of resources.
Small Farmer Fruit Crops Program
Fruit Crops Department, IFAS
Date: December 27, 1979
Activity in the Fruit Crops Department that relates to the small
farmer falls into three broad areas which are: Variety Development;
Cultural Practices and Variety Testing; and Extension. Most of our
effort is directed toward the north and west of Florida. The research
effort is located at the Fruit Crops Department, Gainesville and at the
Agricultural Research Centers at Monticello and Leesburg.
Variety development work is under the direction of 3 plant breeders,
Drs. Wayne Sherman, Paul Lyrene and John Mortenson. There are now major
efforts in developing varieties of pears, blueberries, peaches, apples
and grapes. There are many success examples from this breeding program
with many of our fruit--varieties being Florida releases. In 1971, the
'Anna' apple was introduced to Florida by Dr. Sherman and this has been
very successful for the small grower. A pear variety is nearing release
and there is considerable potential for rabbiteye and highbush blueberries
along with new grape varieties. All of these varieties will be of impor-
tance to the small grower and home owner.
Florida has a peculiar environment that includes many stresses. We
have severe insect and nematode problems in Florida and various pathogens
have to be dealt with. The winter, although mild, is subject to erratic
frosts spaced by warm temperatures suitable for plant growth and the
subsequent loss of plant cold hardiness. On the other hand, our winter
conditions are not cold enough to provide the chilling temperatures re-
quired for many of our deciduous fruit crops. There are problems that
involve plant spacing, pruning and harvesting practices along with mineral
nutrition and water management practices. All of these things are being
About 95% of Florida tobacco acreage is under irrigation. These
perhaps more small farm operations involving than any other agro-
nomic crop at the present time. It lends itself quite well to the
family operation in terms of labor input.
3. Forage Production Many small farm operations in Florida have the
opportunity of producing some kind of forage. Cash income can be
realized from producing a hay crop for sale to local livestock
producers. This requires the expenditure of funds for certain pro-
duction equipment items and the economic feasibility would depend
upon the size of the farm operation.
The opportunity also exist for the small farmer to produce
corn millet and other temporary crops for the production of green-
chop. Such crops can be harvested by the land owner or by the pur-
chaser of the green-chop material using his equipment.
4. Multiple cropping techniques The concept of double cropping or
multiple cropping has the effect of making the small farmer's land
produce more on his given acreage. Techniques are rapidly being
developed and expanding which will allow two or more crops to be
produced profitable on the same land area in a 12 month period.
In summary most of the agronomic crops, to be produced successfully and
profitably,. are usually planted on larger acreages than would be considered a
small farm enterprise. However, under the conditions outlined above and per-
haps other isolated instances the small farmer could engage in agronomic crop
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN
The Rural Development Program in Ornamental Horticulture
encompasses many aspects of the extension program serving the
nursery industry. This segment of the overall program is de-
signed specifically to reach small nursery operators and poten-
tial or beginning nursery operators. These program efforts
include extensive multi-county training programs, seminars and
tours, demonstration nursery plots, a nursery industry survey,
vocational horticulture instructor training, research benefitting
small nurseries and several publications.
The primary thrust of the Rural Development Program in Orn-
amental Horticulture is the training of small nursery operators
and potential nursery operators. Extensive, in-depth programs
have been developed in areas with a high concentration of small
nurseries. Area three has been the first to take advantage of
these in-depth training programs. Twenty hours of training
were offered during eight Thursday evenings of January and Feb-
ruary, 1979. Over sixty nursery operators from five counties
participated in this program. Training topics were designed to
provide basic training in production techniques, weed, insect
and disease control and marketing and economic management.
Two similar training programs are scheduled for 1980. Ten
hours of production management training are planned for four
evenings in January. Landscape design skills will be developed
Degner, Robert L. "Preliminary Findings: Direct Marketing of Beans;
Direct Marketing of Tomatoes; Direct Marketing for Strawberries;
Direct Marketing of Watermelons; Direct Marketing of Citrus; Direct
Marketing of Blueberries; Direct Marketing of Grapes." Unpublished
Report, Florida Agricultural Market Research Center, FRED, 1979.
Degner, Robert L. and Gervasio J. Cubenas. "A Direct Marketing Alterna-
tive for Tomatoes in South Florida," Proceedings, Florida State
Horticultural Society, Vol 91, 1979 (in press).
Fuller, Albert E. "Local Market Feasibility for Fresh Vegetables Produced
in Columbia, Hamilton, Madison, and Suwannee Counties." M.S. Thesis,
FRED, University of Florida, 1978.
Fuller, Albert and Chris 0. Andrew. "Vegetable Marketing and Production
in Columbia, Suwannee, Hamilton, and Madison Counties," Proceedings,
Florida State Horticultural Society, Vol 89, 1976.
Mathis, Kary and Robert L. Degner. "Grape Production in Florida--The
Current Marketing Environment," Marketing Research Center Staff
Report 77-3, FRED, Nov. 1977.
Rose, G. Normal. Florida Vegetables, Melons, Irish Potatoes, and
Strawberries--A Historic Data Series, Economic Report 85, FRED, May
Smith, Dennis K., George L. Brinkman, W. Arden Colette, Donald R. Orden,
and Evans R. Scyphers, Jr. "Working with Small Farm Operators,"
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol 60, December 1978
Strain, J. Robert and W. Arden Colette. "Developing Your Own Marketing
Program," Proceedings, Florida State Horticultural Society, Vol 90,
Wall, G. B. Community Marketing Characteristics; Information for Community
Market Development, Extension Circular 1979 (in process).
Wall, G. Bryan. Marketing Methods and Alternatives for Small Scale
Commercial Vegetable Production, Fact Sheet 14, Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, June 1978.
Wall, G. B. Marketing and Planting Information for Vegetable Growers,
Fact Sheet 16, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, July 1978.
Wall, G. Bryan. "Production and Shipping of Florida Watermelons,"
Proceedings, Floridr State Horticultural Society, Vol 91, 1978.
Wall, G. B. and D. S. Tilley. "Production Responses and Price Determina-
tion in the Florida Watermelon Industry," Southern Journal of
Agricultural Economics, 1979, p. 153.
COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE BOX J-125, JHMHC
J. HILLIS MILLER HEALTH CENTER UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES GAINESVILLE zip 32610
Office of the Assistant Dean for Public Services area code 904 392-4871
ANIMAL HEALTH ON THE SMALL RURAL FARM
At the new College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of the
University of Florida, a strong Rural Animal Medicine (RAM)Service
is being developed.
This RAM Service has been appraised of the increasing numbers
of potential clients living on and raising a variety of animals on
a few acres. There is little doubt that there will be definite needs
and demands for Rural Animal Medicine in the 1980's. This condition
has been established in the last decade by the pigrimage of city
dwellers going back to the land; the migration of northern folk to
the sunbelt; and the invasion of the retiree or semiretiree to the
"good life" in Florida.
It matters not that a small farm unit is operated by one of the
newcomer's or an old-timer "Florida Cracker", animal units representing
numerous species have and will become a part of the action on the small
farm. It is most common for Florida small acreage holdings to have a
flock of poultry (chickens, ducks, or geese), a rabbit hutch, a couple
of "garbage disposal" pigs, a dairy cow or goat for household milk needs,
a pony or a gentle horse for the kids or grandkids, and the usual companion
dog plus two cats or the single cat plus two dogs.
Therefore, our new graduates, who will be establishing practices
in rural areas, must master animal health management for a number of
animal species and be able to relate with their clients. Thus, Preventive
Medicine programs for an individual animal unit or for hundreds of
animal units can and are being taught.
It is most imperative that veterinarians, in rural practice,
accept the responsibility for control of zoontic diseases (those
diseases that are transferable from animal to man or from man to
animal) on the small farms where animals and man live in close proximity.
We routinely stress that a practitioner must consider the animal patient,
the herd mates, the general livestock population, the economic welfare
of the owner, the food consuming public and the regulatory agencies.
One of our major problems with RAM Services is the communications with
and education of the small farmer concerning his animals' health problems.
The solution to this problem area has been aided by funds from the IFAS
Center for Community and Rural Development. With funds allocated we are
developing audio-visual media on disease control practices and we have
purchased portable handling equipment that will be utilized in field
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITYIAFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER
studied through our variety and cultural practices testing program. This
includes basic research, but it also includes testing fruit crop varieties
with cooperative growers in Escambia, Walton, Jackson, Bay and Santa Rosa
Counties by Drs. Andrews and Arnold at the ARC, Monticello. It also in-
cludes extensive test plantings of grapes at Leesburg, Live Oak, Monticello
and Ft. Pierce Agricultural Research Centers. There are plans for a major
fruit crops planting by Drs. Andrews and Arnold at Monticello ARC which
includes varieties of apple, apricot, peach, plum, pear, nectarine, per-
simmon, pecan, blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, chestnut and grape. In
addition to this, there has been considerable work on rejuvenation of pecan
groves through fertilizer and spray programs.
The most important aspect of our small farmer program involves conmuni-
cation through extension programs in IfAS. Dr. Timothy Crocker coordinates
fruit crops activity in this area. He presents 15 to 20 small farmer-home
owner talks each year and there is considerable direct contact with growers
who have 3- or 4-acre fruit crops farms. He conducts 5 field days each
year, including grape and blueberry field days. These meetings are well
attended, e.g., at the Grape Field Day in Ft. Pierce ARC, over 70 people
were in attendance. Dr. Crocker also writes the Fruit Crops Fact Sheets,
many of which are for the small farmer. Dr. Crocker is also the key person
coordinating our small farmer programs with other departments in IFAS, such
as his work on the "Farmer Direct to Consumer Guide" which was done with
the Food and Resource Economics Department.
A chief and encouraging example of success in these programs is the
*many pick-your-own grape and blueberry operations in Central and Northern
total of 58 counties were represented. The samples were examined
for parasites and reports were sent to owners of pigs.
b. The objective was to characterize the parasite infestation
problems and provide owners with suitable recommendations for
c. There were 544 farms involved and the average farm maintained
d. As a follow-up to the survey, integrated pest management services
are provided once per month at the Gainesville feeder pig sale
and 40 on-farm 1PM demonstrations in cooperation with county
agents are planned in 10 of the most important swine raising
SMALL FARMS VEGETABLE PROGRAM
VEGETABLE CROPS DEPARTMENT, IFAS
DECEMBER 20, 1979
The thrust of the Vegetable Crops small farm program is in North and
West Florida. Small market gardeners and vegetable growers, usually growing
20 acres or less, predominate in this area of the state. In addition, watermelons
and tomatoes are grown on a more extensive scale.
The ten most important vegetable crops in North Florida are grown on
about 25,000 acres and have an estimated value of $23 million.. Tomatoes
and watermelons represent 68% of the acreage and 73% of the value of North
Yields of most crops are average, but vary among growers and geographical
areas. Harvested yields of Southern peas and okra, on the other hand, are
below profitable levels.
Vegetables are marketed through local, direct-to-consumer markets or
through brokers at State Farmer's Markets in Quincy, Bonifay, Jacksonville
or Thomasville, Georgia.
North Florida farmers produce vegetables under numerous resource con-
straints including small farm size, inadequate equipment, and insufficient
market outlets. In some cases, scant crop and business management skills
and restricted general educational levels are additional resource constraints.
County and state Extension staff have provided leadership in assisting
Jefferson County watermelon growers achieve their goal of producing 40,000
lbs/acre. A three to four year program is underway to identify production
constraints and improve grower's understanding of efficient watermelon pro-
Production meetings, demonstration plots, minifield days, newsletter
articles, and regular visits by county and state staff are the main educational
thrusts. Production technologies such as subsoiling, liming, use of low salt
fertilizers, and wide-band fertilizer application are being emphasized.
Tomato production technology has been successfully transferred through
Extension educational programs to Gadsden County growers from other production
regions in Florida. Initial success in the spring 1977 season was dramatic.
However, production problems such as soil moisture, weed management, fertilizer
placement, pest control including neniticide application and control of the
tomato fruitwor;, and maintaining product quality during the grading and
handling process have continued to plague the industry. Educational programs
continue to emphasize correct pesticide usage, improving weed management
strategies, increasing use of effective irrigation practices, and maintaining
quality during harvesting and handling procedures through grower meetings,
problem solving, regular newsletter articles, and frequent visits by county
and state Extension p..rsonnel.
training to be a crew leader or to take responsibilities for
specific operations. Properly trained vocational-horticulture
graduates can fill this void. Many instructors of these pro-
grams lack specific education in ornamental horticulture and our
training program is designed to supplement and/or update their
level of expertise. The ultimate product will be vo-tech graduates
with highly marketable skills. The program provided three days
of in-depth training for approximately 45 instructors in 1978
and over 35 in 1979. Oral presentations, field demonstrations
and handout materials were included in the sessions.
Research is being conducted in the areas of production
system scheduling, cutting and seed propagation and several
cultural techniques such as fertilization and watering. The
results from this type of research would specifically benefit
Publications for the small nursery which have been completed
to date are: "Starting a Wholesale Nursery Business" (C);
"Azalea Production in Florida" (C); "Azaleas in Florida" (FS);
"Selection and Establishment of Trees and Shrubs" (C); and
"Elements of Landscape Design" (Slide/tape).
Dr. Dewayne L. Ingram
Ornamental Horticulture and
Small Farm Programs
Agricultural Engineering Department
As the small farm operation is viewed from the agricultural engineering
perspective, three important factors underlie our considerations. We see the
same technologies applied but at a different scale. This scaling does have
problems introduced by machinery coming in integer units and these units are
becoming increasingly larger. With the emphasis placed on larger machines,
farmers are often biased toward large equipment which cannot be justified on
an economic basis. This problem is further complicated by the lack of any
U.S. manufactured small farm tractors. Farmers must purchase imported
tractors or attempt to find used equipment.
Another important factor in the small farm operation is the existence
of a different level of operational management. There is usually more time
available for operational management but there is likely a lower level of
On the small farm, operations can be more labor intensive which is
important in selection of the most appropriate equipment and operation.
Appropriate technology for the small farmer will often be a different
level but will be drawn from the same technology base. This will require
technical support to adapt to the existing requirements. The following are
areas where special application needs exist for the small farmer:
1. Farmstead layout
2. Facilities, and equipment and their management
a) Structures for plants and animals
b) Processing and storage
c) Irrigation, drainage and erosion control
d) Field machinery
e) Waste management
Energy options for the small farmer should receive special consideration.
It has been reported that four times as much energy is used per acre on farms
of 100 acres and smaller as compared with farms of 250 acres and larger.
Although this comparison does not account for the different enterprises and
more intensive practices likely on the smaller farm, it does suggest a special
concern relative to energy. The previously described operational management
aspects of the small farm also give rise to energy options that differ from
those on large farms. The opportunity to deal with more labor intensive
activities and the smaller scale suggests the possibility for applying certain
alternative energy sources as well as conservation measures. Solar, wind,
wood and methane offer potential if investment costs can be met.
EXAMPLES OF SMALL FARMS WORK IN IFAS
Wall, G. B., R. D. Williams, and T. E. Crocker. Management of Pick Your
Own Direct Market Outlets, Extension Circular 1979 (in process).
Wall, G. B., R. D. Williams, and T. E. Crocker. Management of Roadside
Markets, Extension Circular 1979 (in process).