Historic note
 Characteristics of Florida's small...
 The extent of the small farm problem...
 Small farm definitions
 Small farm demonstrations

Title: Characteristics of Florida's small farms
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072251/00001
 Material Information
Title: Characteristics of Florida's small farms
Physical Description: 26 p. : map ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Edmond, Clarence D
Publisher: University of Florida, IFAS, Center for Community and Rural Development
Place of Publication: Gainesville FL
Publication Date: 1980
Subject: Farms, Small -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Florida
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 25-26).
Statement of Responsibility: Clarence D Edmond.
General Note: Includes: "Examples of small farms work in IFAS."
General Note: "Statement presented to the House Agricultural Committee, Tallahassee, FL, January 7, 1980."
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00072251
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 76884088

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Unnumbered ( 1 )
    Characteristics of Florida's small farms
        Page 1
        Page 2
    The extent of the small farm problem in Florida
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Small farm definitions
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Small farm demonstrations
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
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 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
of Florida


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.





Figure 1.

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."


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).


All Farms-/

Less than

$2500 -qq4Q1CQ 19Y


$5000- $10000-
9q99qq $qqq1

tQQ oQ

$40000 or

,, 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















4,742 4,123





.8 1.5
1.8 1.7

7.5 6.3

5.6 5.6

5.6 5.6
10.6 9.5








2,850 5,428













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.


All Farms

Less than





$40000 or

Total-Number of Farms, 1974

Percent reporting on their
off-farm work

Of those reporting, % reporting:
71-149 days
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
farm programs









11.3 0'















2,850 5,428



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.




- -


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.



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


Item Less than

$2500- $5000-.
$4999 $9999



$40000 or

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
Dairy products
Nursery & greenhouse products
Cattle and calves


36.4 b

6.3 c/
55.8 -







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.





. .


JQ7A a/


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".


Smallest Farms (Sales of less than $5,000)-/

Cattle & Calves
Fruits, Nuts, Berries
Grains & Other Field Crops
Nursery & Greenhouse
Vegetables, Corn, Melons

( 7%)
( 2%)

Medium Farms (Sales of $20,000-$39,999)

Fruits, Nuts, Berries
Grains & Other Field Crops
Cattle & Calves
Nursery & Greenhouse
Vegetables, Corn, Melons

( 8%)
( 6%)

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
Vegetables, Corn,Melons
Dairy Products
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.

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)


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

is suggested:

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

and $39,999,

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 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

states follow(13):

Missouri Over two thirds of the participants realized increased

farm sales and two-thirds used credit compared to 35% of

similar non-participants.

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-
ducts sold.

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

other channels.


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.

Thank 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
of Florida.

(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,
March 1975.

(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,
September 1978.

(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,
USDA, 1979.

(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.

(10) _______
-Farm Income Statistics, USDA, Economics, Statistics, And Cooperatives '
Service, Statistical Bulletin No. 609, July 1978.

(11) _______
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.

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