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98th Congress
2d Session

J0IN T COMMITTEE PRINT

S. P rt.
9g_274

THE ECONOMIC EVOLUTION OF
AGRICULTURE

STATEMENTS
PREPARED FOR THE USE OF THE

JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

DECEMBER 7, 1984

Printed for the use of the Joint Economic Committee

U.S. GOVERNM ENT PRINTING OFFICE
40-762 O




W ASHIN G TO N

198 5

JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
[Created pursuant to sec. 5(a) of Public Law 304, 79th Congress]
SENATE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ROGER W. JEPSEN, Iowa, Chairman
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana,
WILLIAM V. ROTH, J r . , Delaware
Vice Chairman
GILLIS W. LONG, Louisiana
JAMES ABDNOR, South Dakota
PARREN J. MITCHELL, Maryland
STEVEN D. SYMMS, Idaho
AUGUSTUS F. HAWKINS, California
MACK MATTINGLY, Georgia
DAVID R. OBEY, Wisconsin
ALFONSE M. D’AMATO, New York
JAMES H. SCHEUER, New York
LLOYD BENTSEN, Texas
CHALMERS P. WYLIE, Ohio
WILLIAM PROXMIRE, Wisconsin
MARJORIE S. HOLT, Maryland
EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
PAUL S. SARBANES, Maryland
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
D a n C. R o b e r t s , Executive Director
J a m e s K. G a l b r a i t h , Deputy Director




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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

D ecem ber 3, 1984.

To the Members of the Joint Economic Committee:
The Joint Economic Committee scheduled a hearing entitled
“The Economic Evolution of Agriculture” for October 3, 1984, be­
ginning at 10 a.m. The meeting was cancelled shortly before that
hour because the Senate had remained in session through the
night previous and had adjourned at 9:38 a.m. Consequently, no
Senator was available to chair the hearing. This committee print is
a compilation of the opening statements of the chairman, Senator
Roger W, Jepsen, and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Agri­
culture and Transportation, Senator James Abdnor, and the pre­
pared statements of the witnesses, John G. Keane of the Census
Bureau; William G. Lesher, accompanied by Wayne Rasmussen
and David Harrington of the Department of Agriculture; and
Ronald C. Wimberly of North Carolina State University. A summa­
ry of statistics from the 1982 Census of Agriculture, prepared by
the Joint Economic Committee staff has been attached as an ap­
pendix to this committee print.
The statements expressed herein are those of the participants
and not necessarily those of the Joint Economic Committee.
Sincerely,
R o g e r W. Jepsen,




Chairman, Joint Economic Committee.
(in )




CONTENTS
Page

Letter of transmittal..............

hi

THE ECONOMIC EVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURE
Opening statement of:
Jepsen, Hon. Roger W., chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.
Abdnor, Hon. James, member of the Joint Economic Com m ittee...............
Statement of:
Keane, John G., Director, Bureau of the Census, together with appen­
dixes and ch a rts............................ ..... ... ...... ........ ..............................................
Lesher, William G.. Assistant Secretary for Economics, U.S. Department
of Agriculture, together with attached c h a r ts......................................... ......
Wimberley, Ronald C., Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North
Carolina State University, Raleigh, together with an appendix and an
article entitled “The Emergence of Part-Time Farming as a Social
Form of Agriculture” ........ ................ .... .................................................
Appendix. Census of Agriculture, 1982, Summary of Statistics......................




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OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR ROGER W, JEPSEN,
CHAIRMAN
Today we have assembled a panel of four distinguished and
knowledgeable witnesses to discuss the economic and structural
changes taking place in the farm sector and to examine the public
policy implications of these changes. It is a pleasure to have you
gentlemen before the committee and we welcome you.
Our hearing title—“The Economic Evolution of Agriculture”—
capsulizes three years of intensive investigation and evaluation of
the farm sector. Indeed, we are witnessing a transformation in ag­
riculture which is challenging its economic foundation and struc­
ture.
The challenges facing agricultural policymakers are many, also.
First, technology is the engine for economic change. No industry
has outpaced the technical advances and productivity gains made
by the farm sector in all of U.S. history. Technology alters mar­
kets, production processes and manpower requirements and there­
by alters the very structure of an industry. Agriculture is no excep­
tion to this.
Second, agriculture has been ushered into the “major leagues”
after decades of being relegated to lower status following the indus­
trial revolution. Just a few years ago, the farm sector was limited
to a domestic market and was insulated from the economic factors
facing other U.S. industries. Nowadays, U.S. agriculture is the
dominant force in the international marketplace and makes a $25
billion, positive contribution to our balance of payments annually.
But the farm sector is competing in a fierce international market­
place and we have lost ground in the past few years. This lost
ground can be attributed to economic influences outside of agricul­
ture—such as the increasing value of the dollar, higher interest
rates, higher production costs due to inflation, the use or embargo
of food sales as an instrument of foreign policy, or unfair trading
practices of our foreign competitors in the world market.
There are farm leaders and public servants who would prefer to
be defeatist and defensive of those two big challenges confronting
the agricultural economy. But not me. They are opportunities.
Technology is an answer, not a problem. America is the economic
powerhouse it is because we became more proficient in providing
food. As farmers became more productive and efficient, labor and
capital resources were freed for use in other economic activities. I
assert that the industrial revolution wouldn't have taken place
unless it occurred in agriculture first.
With regard to world trade, the only way economic growth can occur
in agriculture is to strengthen our competitive edge and to expand our
export efforts. Through these efforts, the United States would improve
its balance of payments problems and create jobs and op-




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2

portunities here at home. And the whole world would benefit by
consuming food produced at the lowest cost anywhere.
Today, our hearing will focus on how the structure of the farm
sector is being affected by these economic changes transpiring in
agriculture. Our witnesses today will provide us with invaluable in­
formation on farm statistics and the current condition of U.S. agri­
culture; will share with us their interpretation of the social, eco­
nomic, and historical implications of these changes; and will give
us insights into what the future holds for farmers and the farm
sector.
We members of the Joint Economic Committee and Members of
the Congress will gain from the insights you give us today. Your
contribution to the farm policymaking process is greatly appreciat­
ed. Again, welcome to our hearing this morning.




OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JAMES ABDNOR
On behalf of myself and the committee, I welcome our panelists
today to discuss what perhaps is the most fundamental question
about the future of agriculture: How are farmers, farms and the
entire farm sector going to be affected by the social, economic and
technical changes confronting the industry? And what are the ap­
propriate response and actions of policymakers as we witness these
changes? It is my hope and expectation that today we can elabo­
rate on this challenging and important subject.
Agriculture is becoming evermore diverse and specialized; yet at
the same time, more and more farms are far removed from the
mainstream of production agriculture. Although you gentlemen are
the experts on farm numbers, I would like to share a few with you
for the purposes of illustration.
Farms with sales of less than $10,000 annually account for 49
percent of all farms, 16 percent of all farm land, but just 3 percent
of sales. The average size farm in this classification is 141 acres;
average annual sales are just $3,511. Farms with sales of more
than $10,000 annually comprise 51 percent of all farms, 84 percent
of the land and 97 percent of all sales. From an average of 708
acres, $111,926 of sales is generated annually on average.
This stark comparison is startling. I guess it is safe to say that
agricultural operations come in all shapes, styles, and sizes. I would
even go so far as to say that some farmers are in it for reasons
other than tilling the soil and trying to make a profit. How can we
develop a satisfactory public policy for agriculture facing such di­
versity? I am confident that we can defend an active role and
define an appropriate role for Government in the farm sector.
After all, our food and fiber supply is integral to our security and
survival.
Economic forces shape all industries, and agriculture has been
hit hard by many factors as the chairman has mentioned. And
technology is among the strongest forces. I wish to paraphrase the
excellent testimony of Mike Phillips from the Office of Technology
Assessment, who appeared before our committee yesterday. He said
that the adoption of emerging technologies raises important struc­
tural questions. Who will adopt these technologies—small, medium
or large farms? If technical advances lead to surpluses, then some
farms likely will not survive. Which farms will go out of produc­
tion? Mr. Phillips suggested that large farms are more likely to use
new technology which results in lower unit costs, which in turn
puts smaller farms at a greater competitive disadvantage. With the
adoption of new technology, the whole Nation benefits from lower
costs, but it does so at the expense of losing the farms which do not
or cannot adapt to new conditions.
Our witnesses here today can make an outstanding contribution
to the American public by sharing their analyses of agricultural




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statistics and their insights on dealing with the accompanying
policy issues. Sound public policy is built on a solid understanding
of the nature of an industry and the needs of the Nation. Your tes­
timony today will provide us with an excellent foundation on
which we can begin to construct the 1985 farm bill.




STATEMENT OF JOHN G. KEANE, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF
THE CENSUS
I n t r o d u c t io n

I am pleased to appear before the Joint Economic Committee to
talk with you about results from the 1982 Census of Agriculture. I
will highlight some of the changes we have observed in agriculture.
Additional detail and information on the history and uses of census
data are included in the appendices of my report.
Our review of final data from the 1982 census shows some inter­
esting changes and continued trends in agriculture. I want to point
out that since 1974, for census purposes, a farm has been defined as
any place that produced or normally produces $1,000 of agricultur­
al products during the census year. Although different definitions
were used for earlier censuses, the comparisons I will make with
1969 and earlier census data are not affected significantly by the
definition changes.
Structural Ch an g es

in

A g r ic u l t u r e

Final results from the 1982 Census of Agriculture show a con­
tinuing 4-decade trend toward fewer and larger farms. There was
an increase in the number of small farms but a continued decrease
in the number of mid-sized farms. This caused a net decrease in
farm numbers nationally. The 1982 census shows a total farm
count of 2.2 million. The decline in the farm numbers was 0.7 per­
cent between 1978 and 1982 compared to decreases of 2.4 percent
from 1974 to 1978 and 15.2 percent from 1969 to 1974.
The trend toward more large farms continued. Farms with 2,000
acres or more increased by 2 percent and those with 1,000 to 1,999
remained almost constant. The number of farms in the 50 to 499
acre size ranges decreased, while farms 1 to 49 acres increased
(Chart 1).
The relative stability in farm counts was not uniform across the
country. In the Northeast and the South, farm numbers were
almost unchanged, but the West recorded an increase of 25,662
farms (10 percent) while the Midwest States experienced a loss of
42,409 farms (4.3 percent).
There was a 28 million acre reduction in farmland for 1982. This
resumed a trend toward substantially reduced farm acreage which
had been slowed by a relatively small 2.3 million acre loss in the
1978 census. The 1974 and 1969 censuses recorded decreases of 45.9
and 47.3 million acres, respectively. Approximately 30 percent of
the 1982 decrease was cropland, 17 percent was woodland, and 53
percent was pastureland. The loss of land in farms was 2.8 percent
and was fairly uniform nationwide, varying from 2.3. percent in
the Midwest to 3.7 percent in the South.




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6

Harvested cropland data provide solid evidence of the overall
trend toward larger production units. Farms harvesting 2,000 acres
or more increased 32 percent and those with 1,000 to 1,999 acres
rose by 24 percent. There was a slight decrease in harvested crop­
land on farms with fewer than 50 acres, but the largest absolute
and percentage declines were recorded in the 50 to 199 acre group
where a 12 percent drop occurred. Even those in the 200 to 499
range, which had registered a slight increase in numbers in 1978,
suffered an 8 percent decrease in 1982 cropland. The shift toward
larger acreages of harvested cropland was particularly strong in
the grain-producing Midwest States, where farms with 2,000 or
more acres harvested rose a sharp 52 percent with correspondingly
large decreases in the mid-sized groups below 500 acres.
Part of the growth in the larger acreage farms is attributable to
a 3 percent growth from 1978 to 1982 in the total amount of crop­
land harvested, but it does not explain the disappearance of the
mid-sized farms. Most of the shift was the result of continued con­
solidation into larger farms.
A similar pattern emerges from farm product sales data. Farms
with sales of $500,000 or more made up 1.2 percent of all farms but
they accounted for almost one-third of the value of products sold.
At the other extreme, almost one-half of all farms had sales of less
than $10,000, but their share of total sales was less than 3 percent.
Mid-sized farms with sales of $10,000 to $99,999 decreased by 13
percent, and their proportion of farm sales dropped from 33.4 per­
cent in 1978 to 24.7 percent in 1982. Even when inflation is taken
into account, it is evident that considerable production concentra­
tion is continuing (Chart 2).
Total irrigated land dropped from 50.3 to 49.0 million acres be­
tween 1978 and 1982, reversing a strong expansion or irrigated
land in recent censuses. Texas experienced a loss of more than a
million acres in irrigated cropland harvested; but substantial in­
creases in Nebraska, Arkansas, and other States resulted in a net
increase of 1.7 percent irrigated harvested cropland. The big de­
cline came in irrigated pastureland, especially in the West where a
decrease from 4.9 million to 3.8 million acres occurred. Increased
cost for energy to pump water from falling water tables was a
major reason for the decrease in the Texas Panhandle and other
parts of the High Plains.
Increased farm size and production concentration do not appear
to be altering the basic family farm dominance of American agri­
culture. Eighty-nine percent of all farms are controlled and operat­
ed by individuals or families. They operated 81 percent of the land,
83 percent of the harvested cropland, and received 77 percent of
the value of farm products sold. Partnerships, many of which are
family partnerships although they are not separately identified as
such in the census, accounted for 10 percent of the farms and 16
percent of farmland, harvested cropland, and value of sales. Nonfamily corporations had 0.3 percent of the farms, 2 percent of the
land in farms, 1 percent of harvested cropland, and 6.5 percent of
the value of sales.
Family farms have lower average sales than nonfamily corpora­
tions and partnerships. Although their proportion of total farms
decreased as size of sales increased, they accounted for more than




7
70 percent of even the largest sales class ($500,000 or more). Corpo­
rate farms increased by 19 percent from 1978 to 1982; but 88 per­
cent of all corporations were family corporations, and 97 percent of
these had 10 or fewer shareholders. The largest increase in corpo­
rate farms (34 percent) occurred in the Midwest Region where con­
solidation of farms also appears to be taking place. The Northeast,
South and West registered corporate farm increases of 11, 6, and 18
percent, respectively. The trend that emerges is the growth and in­
corporation of family farms rather than an intrusion of nonfamily
corporations into agriculture.
Since 1978, the classification of farm operators by tenure shows
slight increases in the percentages of full owners and part owners
and a decrease in tenant farms. Part-owner farms which operate
both owned and rented land are, on average, much larger than fullowner and tenant farms. Twenty-nine percent of the farms, ac­
counting for 54 percent of the farmland, are classified as partowner operations. Part owners make up 64 percent of the farms
with 2,000 acres or more. The dominance of part-owner farms in
the large acre categories implies that farm growth and full use of
inputs such as labor and machinery are accomplished most fre­
quently through a combination of land ownership and renting land
from others.
The percentage of full-owner farms with fewer than 50 acres in­
creased from 77 to 79 percent between 1978 and 1982, providing
evidence that most of the new shall farms are fully owned.
C r ops

Four major crops, corn for grain, wheat, soybeans, and hay crops,
accounted for 80 percent of all the crop acreage harvested and 60
percent of the value produced in 1982.
Corn

The acreage of corn for grain shot upward by one-third since
1969 from 52 million acres to 70 million in 1978, but there was no
change between 1978 and 1982. Per acre yields have increased by
25 bushels since 1969, from 85 bushels per acre to over 105 bushels
in 1982. The number of farms producing corn has decreased stead­
ily since 1969 from 986,000 to 715,000 in 1982, a decline of 30 per­
cent.
However, farms growing 500 or more acres of grain corn have in­
creased by over four times since 1969. In 1982, there were 17,400
farms with 500 or more acres of corn, 2.4 percent of the total corn
farms. These farms accounted for 20 percent of the acreage and
production.
Wheat

Reversing a long-term decline, data from the 1982 Census of Ag­
riculture show a significant increase in the number of farms pro­
ducing wheat. There were 446,000 farms that harvested wheat in
1982, up from the 379,000 farms that reported wheat in the previ­
ous census. The corresponding rise in wheat acreage and produc­
tion was substantial. Wheat acres harvested increased 31 percent




8

from 1978 to a total of 71 million acres in 1982, while production
jumped 47 percent to almost 2.4 billion bushels.
Though the increase in wheat production was evident in almost
every State, nowhere was it more dramatic than in the South. In
1978, the southern portion of the U.S. accounted for less than 4
percent of the Nation’s wheat harvested. By 1982, over 11 percent
of the wheat harvested was produced in the South. Not surprising­
ly, almost two-thirds of the Nation's overall increase in wheat-pro­
ducing farms were located in the South.
Cotton

Farms with cotton accounted for 2 percent of the farms in the
United States. While the cotton crop accounted for only 3 percent
of the harvested land and 2 percent of the total value of agricultur­
al products sold, it accounted for 5 percent of the value of crops
sold. There were 38,000 farms with 9.8 million acres of cotton in
1982. These farms produced a total of 11.3 million bales of cotton
which sold for $3.2 billion.
Nowhere has the shift from numerous and small farms, to fewer
and larger farms been more pronounced than in cotton farming. In
1964, the average cotton acreage was 43 per farm. By 1982, this av­
erage had increased nearly six times to 256 acres. It appears that
this consolidation is still taking place at a diminishing rate. In
1978, the average acreage was 237, 7 percent less than 1982.
In terms of cotton farm numbers, there has been a dramatic de­
cline. Since 1964, farms producing cotton have declined 88 percent
from 324,000 farms to 38,000 farms in 1982. Even as recently as
1978, the farm count stood at 53,000, giving a 27 percent reduction
in farms between 1978 and 1982.
While variable between censuses, it appears that California, Ari­
zona, and Texas are increasing in cotton acres as the Southern
States are tapering off. In 1964, the Southern States held 42 per­
cent, Texas held 41 percent, and the West held 8 percent of the
13.9 million acres of cotton. In 1982, the Southern States dropped
to 31 percent while Texas and the Western States had picked up to
43 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Soybeans

Soybean acreage has shown a strong rise for many years. In
1969, there were 38.5 million acres. By 1982, the acres had risen 41
percent to 64.8 million. Soybean acres accounted for only 7 percent
of the harvested cropland in 1969. By 1982, the soybean share of
harvested acres had increased to 20 percent. Farms harvesting soy­
beans decreased 4 percent from 530,000 to 511,000 in 1982.
Hay

Hay has been an important staple of the agriculture sector. In
1982, 1.1 million farms harvested 128.5 tons of hay from 59.7 mil­
lion acres. The value of production was estimated at $8 billion. Hay
accounted for 18 percent of all harvested cropland and 11 percent
of the estimated value of production of all crops. While hay has not




9
changed as dramatically as many other crops, it has shared, to
some extent, the decreasing farm count and increasing acres.
L iv e s t o c k

Cattle and calves

The livestock sector also is showing some significant changes. Re­
flecting cyclical trends, cattle and calf sales were down from 1978
as seen in Chart 3. Mid-sized farms showed the largest decrease in
cattle sold. There were 24,000 more farms with fewer than 20 cattle
and calves sold, but the sales from these farms decreased. Similar­
ly, sales for cattle fattened on grain or concentrates were down 7
percent in number. The greatest decreases in both farm count and
number sold occurred in the 20 to 499 head range, accounting for
49 percent of the total decrease in number sold.
Concentration is at work in terms of livestock inventories. For
example, cattle and calf operations with inventories of less than 50
head were 64 percent of the total farms but only 16 percent of the
inventories. Those with 500 head or more were only 2 percent of
the farms but held 29 percent of the inventory.
Hogs and pigs

While cattle sales were down, sales of hogs and pigs were up, rep­
resenting 8 percent of agricultural product sold for 1982. Sales
show a greater concentration when compared to 1978, with 26 per­
cent fewer farms selling 5 percent more swine. The number of
farms selling fewer than 500 head annually decreasd about 30 per­
cent; number of sales were down by a similar amount. Farms sell­
ing 1,000 head or more increased by 38 percent. The number they
sold increased by 47 percent to 45.6 million head (Chart 4.) This
latter group of 22,000 farms, now accounts for 48 percent of total
number of hogs and pigs sold in the United States. About 95 mil­
lion hogs and pigs were sold in 1982 with Iowa ranking first in
number sold with 24 million.
Milk cows

The dairy industry also showed some major changes. The
number of farms with milk cows was down 11 percent from 1978 to
277,700 farms in 1982, but the total inventory of 10,850,000 cows re­
flected a 6 percent increase (Chart 5). The largest inventory in­
crease for 1982 was 27 percent on farms with 500 or more head,
mainly in the West. The greatest percent decrease occurred on
farms with 1 to 19 head for both farms and cows. This trend re­
flects movement away from the family herd toward the more com­
mercial and larger herds which are more efficient, particularly in
the Midwest and West Regions of the United States.
Milk sales represented 12 percent of total value of agricultural
products sold in 1982. Milk production in the United States is con­
centrated largely in the Northeast and Great Lakes States and in
California. These 16 States accounted for 58 percent of the total
value of dairy products sold in 1982.




10

Hens and pullets

Layer inventory on poultry farms shows an increase from 1978 to
1982 of 3.4 percent. Total inventory of approximately 311 million is
concentrated mainly in the South with 133.4 million or 43 percent.
The number of farms is down, as well as are the inventories for all
farms except those with 20,000 or more. In this group, there were
approximately 2 percent of total farms that accounted for 79 per­
cent of all inventories (Chart 6). The value of eggs and poultry sold
represented 3 percent of all agricultural products sold.
E c o n o m ic P r o f il e

The value of all farm products sold increased 23 percent between
1978 and 1982. During this period, the consumer price index
showed a 35 percent increase in food costs. Crop sales made up 47
percent of the total value compared to 45 percent in 1978. Live­
stock and poultry’s share of the total dropped from 55 to 53 per­
cent. All major crop categories showed value of sales increases,
with cash grain up the most with an increase of 36 percent and
cotton the least with a 4 percent gain.
All major livestock categories except sheep and lambs also re­
corded sales increases. Dairy products and hogs showed the great­
est increases in concentration of sales. Dairy product sales were up
45 percent even though there were 8 percent fewer farms selling
these products. There was a 26 percent decrease in farms selling
hogs and a 22 percent increase in the value of hog sales.
The distribution of farms by Standard Industrial Classification
(SIC) reflected the trend toward concentration. The SIC is deter­
mined by the commodity from which 50 percent or more of a
farm’s sales are derived. The percentage of cash grain farms, espe­
cially wheat and corn farms, has increased; and this growth is con­
centrated on farms with sales of $100,000 or more. Field crop farms
(excluding cash grains and vegetables), reflecting the decline in
cotton and hay farms, decreased substantially with the biggest de­
cline appearing among farms with sales of less than $10,000.
Comparisons of selected expenditures to total sales also demon­
strate the greater efficiency of larger farms. Farms with sales of
$100,000 or more accounted for more than 70 percent of product
sales in 1982. Credit costs on these farms amounted to algiost twothirds of interest expenses for all farms, and their energy costs
made up 57 percent of the total for all farms. The greater return
they received per dollar borrowed or spent is shown by the fact
that they spent only 13.7 cents for interest and energy products per
dollar of sales. This compares to expenditures of 38.6 cents for
these items by farms with sales of less than $10,000.
Hired labor costs increased $1.6 billion from 1978 to 1984. Since
1974, however, hired labor costs have remained almost constant at
6 percent of gross sales, dropping from a high of 11 percent in 1944
(Chart 7). The modest increase in hired labor costs from 1978 to
1982 may reflect the use of tax benefits of incorporating and
paying hired family members for their labor rather than reporting
the money as farm income.
The increased fertilizer and chemical use during the 1970’s has
evolved into selective application in the 1980’s. While the cost of fer­




11

tilizer used per acre doubled from 1969 to 1974, the cost per acre
increased only 25 percent from 1974 to 1982.
The increased acreage treated with chemicals for weeds, brush,
insects, or nematodes control during the 70's has leveled out. The
cost of chemicals increased from 2.7 percent of sales in 1978 to 3.3
percent of sales in 1982 indicating that cost appears to have damp­
ened expended use (Chart 8). Although total acres treated with
chemicals or fertilizers have stabilized, the selective use is chang­
ing the expenditure patterns on farms. From 1978 to 1982, chemi­
cal cost rose from 4.9 to 6.1 percent of sales on cash grain farms.
Cost of fertilizer used dropped from 8.3 to 6.8 percent of sales on
tobacco farms. As pricing patterns change and the implementation
of cropping practices such as minimum tillage or no-till expand,
the use of chemicals and fertilizer may change.
Physical resources

As farms grew in size and the pressures and opportunities of pro­
duction concentration continued, the dollar value of farmland,
buildings, machinery, and equipment also has grown. It nearly dou­
bled between 1974 and 1982, while the money received by our Na­
tion’s farmers for the commodities they produced has increased by
only 1.6 times. This inability of farm prices to keep pace with input
costs would have been further aggravated had total output from a
standpoint of actual production (quantity harvested, broilers
slaughtered, and so forth) not increased.
It appears that farmers with sales of $10,000 to $39,999 would be
most hard-pressed by any downturn in farm prices or upturn in in­
terest rates. They are involved heavily in agriculture, yet they are
not large enough to derive the economies of scale benefiting larger
operators. Although 65 percent of operators with sales of $10,000 to
$39,999 reported farming as their principal occupation in 1982,
they generated less than 10 cents of farm sales of every dollar of
land and buildings they controlled. This compares to 46 cents for
farmers with annual sales of $500,000 or more. These mid-sized op­
erators produce just under 50 cents of sales for every dollar of ma­
chinery and equipment they control, compared to farmers with
annual sales of $500,000 or more who produce $5.47 of sales for
every dollar of machinery and equipment.
Although the numbers of most machinery and equipment items
showed little change from 1978 to 1982, the reported value of farm
machinery increased by $16 billion (21 percent) during this period.
Most of the increase in value probably can be attributed to higher
costs of new and used machinery. The percentage of machinery
that was less than 5 years old in 1982 was considerably lower than
in 1978. So it seems that the high cost of replacement was keeping
the value of older equipment high and perhaps causing some of it
to appreciate in value.
In 1982, 16 percent of the tractors were less than 5 years old
compared to 18 percent in 1978. Recently, manufactured farm
trucks declined from 38 percent to 31 percent of the total. Similar
drops from 25 to 21 percent and 26 to 23 percent occurred for com­
bines and balers, respectively. The reluctance to make costly in­
vestments in new machinery was an indication of the effects of the

4 0 -7 6 2

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cost-price squeeze and seemed to be even more prevalent on farms
with more pieces of equipment than on the others.
D e m o g r a p h ic T r e n d s

Occupation and age

Occupation and age provide valuable insights about the make-up
of farmers and their involvement in agriculture as a livelihood and
a way of life (Chart 9). Farming was the principal occupation of 55
percent of all farm operators, and their share of total sales was 87
percent. The 45 percent whose occupation was something other
than farming made up the remaining 13 percent.
The proportion of operators with occupations other than farming
has increased in each recent census. In 1974, 38 percent had non­
farm occupations; and this increased to 44 percent in 1978 and 45
percent in 1982. This is related to the growth in small farms be­
cause the percentage of occupations other than farming increases
as the size of farm decreases. Only 11 percent of operators with
1,000 acres or more have nonfarm occupations, while about 70 per­
cent of those with less than 50 acres have occupations other than
farming.
The concentration of production among operators with farming
occupations is even more evident when age is considered. The aver­
s e age of all farm operators was 50.5 years, up slightly from 50.3
in 1978 but lower than the 51.7 average age in 1974. In the 35 to 65
age group, operators with farming occupations and those with
other occupations each operated about one-third of all farms. Yet
those with farming occupations in this age group accounted for
two-thirds of total agricultural sales, and those with other occupa­
tions accounted for less than 10 percent.
Many operators 65 years or older are retired from nonfarm jobs
and report their occupation as farming, but it is apparent that
many of their operations are small retirement farms. Among the
farming occupation group, 22 percent are 65 or over, but they ac­
count for only 10 percent of the value of products sold.
In the under 25 age group engaged primarily in farming, 55 per­
cent are tenants and the average value of sales is low, showing
that many are renting from their parents and probably have not
left home yet.
Off-farm work

Almost one-fourth of those operators whose principal occupation
was farming reported off-farm work. Five percent reported 200 or
more days, 5 percent reported 100 to 199 days, and 14 percent re­
ported less than 100 days of off-farm employment. More than 70
percent of farm operators with nonfarming occupations worked 200
days or more off the farm. Twelve percent worked between 100 and
200 days and 5 percent worked less than 100 days at off-farm jobs
or businesses.
A

g r ic u l t u r e

C e n s u s D a t a Q u a l it y

The quality of data for the census of agriculture is of major im­
portance and concern at the Bureau. The primary vehicle for meas­




13

uring agriculture census quality is the coverage evaluation pro­
gram. A system of periodic quality control checks is used at various
stages of processing for ensuring the completeness and consistency
of reported data.
Coverage evaluations have been conducted for each agriculture
census since 1945 and provide an independent check of the census
results. These evaluations indicate that the coverage of small units
is a continuing problem. These small units are not likely to be in­
cluded in any administrative record sources available to the
Bureau. Preliminary coverage estimates for the 1982 Census of Ag­
riculture indicate that 30 percent of farms with less than $2,500 in
sales were missed, and these farms accounted for less than 2 per­
cent of estimated sales value of agricultural products. Another indi­
cation of their size is that 75.6 percent of the missed farms had
sales of less than $2,500. Coverage estimates for all farms indicate
that 10 percent were missed in the census.
Census of agriculture data users, including the Congress, were
critical that the 1969 and 1974 censuses missed 15 percent and 11
percent of the farms, respectively. An area Sample Survey was
added to the 1978 Census of Agriculture, and only 3.4 percent of all
farms were missed and 6.5 percent of farms with less than $2,500
in sales. The area sample is a coverage improvement survey for na­
tional- and State-level estimates and a tool for evaluating countylevel estimates.
Farms from the area sample survey for 1978 accounted for 9 per­
cent of all farms in the United States, but only 1 percent of the
total value of agricultural products sold and 1 percent of the land
in farms. For farms with sales of less than $2,500, the area sample
survey contribution was substantially higher and provided about 25
percent of the farms, 6 percent of the land, and 14 percent of the
value of sales. The contribution of the area sample survey to the
total farm count varied greatly by state, from a low of 2.0 percent
in North Dakota to a high of 23.8 percent in New Hampshire. The
area sample survey made a relatively high contribution to farm
numbers in New England and Southern States. For farms with
black or female operators, the contribution of the area sample
survey was much larger than for the total farms in 1978. For farms
with black operators, the area sample survey provided about 25
percent of. the farms, 13 percent of the land, and 9 percent of the
sales. For farms with female operators, it contributed 12 percent of
the farms, 3 percent of the land, and 2 percent of the sales.
The constant change and complexity of farm units as well as the
deficienty in administrative record source lists prevent a more com­
plete coverage for a census with data collection by mail only. Using
an area sample survey to supplement the census mail list, as in the
1978 Census of Agriculture, would provide an important means of
improving census data completeness. The broadbased reliance on
census results by other Federal agencies, Congress, and State and
local governments places a strong requirement for an area sample
survey to restore the needed quality and coverage to the agricul­
ture census.




14
Su m m ary

of

Data N

eeds

Another area which is receiving high priority is the needs of
data users. The census of agriculture provides structural data on a
periodic basis at the national, regional, state, and county levels.
However, census data are not intended to provide estimates of cur­
rent agricultural situations. Rather, they provide information
needed to study agricultural economic structure and farm charac­
teristics over a period of time. Economic and technological change
dictates changes in data needs. Some of these data needs can be
met with the use of sample surveys, using the census as a sampling
frame. Since the late 1950’s, estimates on various topics have been
provided by sample surveys of farms and ranches. For example, the
Bureau has conducted surveys on Hired and Family Labor; Debts,
Assets, and Off-farm Income; Partnerships; Corporate Farms;
Energy Use; and Irrigation Practices.
Data gaps

Despite the Bureau’s intensive program of providing data and
the programs of other government agencies to do the same, situa­
tions arise which present significant policy problems for which no
data are available currently to use in analyzing and developing
programs to alleviate the problem. Many of our users have ex­
pressed concern for the lack of data in the following areas:
Farm finance.—There is mounting concern over the current
farm debt situation. The most current detailed farm finance
and debt data available are for the year 1979. Users, including
the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA), the Farm Credit Administration, and
the Federal Reserve Board have approached the Bureau, seek­
ing a data collection effort which will provide current data on
the status of farm finance and debt. However, no funding
sources are available to conduct such a survey.
On-farm irrigation.—As part of the 1978 census program, an
on-farm irrigation sample survey was conducted to provide
users with extensive data concerning farm and ranch irriga­
tion practices. The survey provided information on acres irri­
gated, yields of irrigated and nonirrigated crops, quantity of
water used, method of water distribution, type of pumps, and
expenditures for pumping irrigation water.
The survey results are being used extensively by many users,
in particular ERS and other agencies within USDA and the
Department of the Interior. These users have approached the
Bureau in an effort to have the on-farm irrigation survey con­
ducted in the future.
Hired labor.—Several agencies have asked the Bureau for in­
formation on farm and migrant labor for various research and
outreach programs. The Bureau has not conducted a farm
labor survey since 1964.
Energy.—The energy crisis in the mid-1970’s generated a
need for detailed information related to farm energy use. In re­
sponse to this need, the Bureau conducted a farm energy
survey in 1979. Data users have expressed an interest in devel­
oping a continuing data series in the area of energy use.




15
Input resources.—The Bureau is working with ERS to devel­
op a series of surveys which will provide information on inputs
and cultivation practices for major crops. Data would be pro­
vided on inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and
other agricultural chemicals, as well as cultivation practices.
Data collected will be used by both USDA and the Environ­
mental Protection Agency (EPA) for research and evaluation of
current programs.
Sample surveys help reduce respondent burden

Using sample surveys reduces both data collection costs and
processing and respondent burden. For example, to provide detailed
information on farm debt, energy usage, or irrigation would involve
response to a large number of questions. This, if added to a general
census questionnaire, would prove extremely burdensome. By se­
lecting a stratified sample from the census, respondent burden can
be reduced. A sample of 4,000 to 8,000 farms may be sufficient to
project accurate national totals for any one of the previously men­
tioned subjects. The reduced response burden also results in re­
duced cost for mailing and processing.
C o n c l u s io n

It has been a pleasure to be here today to talk about this vital
statistical program. The census of agriculture data have become
the benchmark for agricultural policy analysis of all levels of gov­
ernment. They also are the backbone of many market analyses, re­
search projects, and advertising campaigns conducted by the pri­
vate sector. Without this 5-year county-level measurement of agri­
culture, information on our food and fiber system surely would not
be as complete. Thank you for asking me to testify.
A

p p e n d ix

A .— B a c k g r o u n d a n d H is t o r y
A g r ic u l t u r e

of the

Census

of

Background

The census of agriculture program constitutes a comprehensive and periodic can­
vass of the Nation's agricultural activity, providing the data to chart trends in the
farm sector. It is the only source of uniform, comparable agricultural data for each
county and state and for the country as a whole.
The census of agriculture was taken every 10 years from 1840 to 1920 and every 5
years from 1925 through 1974. The census has undergone a reference-year change.
Two 4-year censuses taken for 1978 and 1982 adjusted the data-reference year to co­
incide with the economic censuses starting in 1982. Thereafter, the agriculture
census will revert to a 5-year cycle.
The agriculture census is authorized by law under Title 13, United States Code,
Section 142, which requires that the census be taken at 5-year intervals covering the
years ending in “ 2” and “ 7” The census law imposes a joint obligation on farm and
ranch operators to respond and on the Census Bureau to maintain the confidential­
ity of information reported to it. The law also specifies penalties for noncompliance
and for disclosure of information by the Census Bureau. A farm, for statistical pur­
poses, is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were sold or
normally would have been sold during the census year.
The 1982 Census of Agriculture is substantially similar to the 1978 census. It
covers all farms and ranches in the Nation. The census provides data on agricultur­
al land use and ownership, crops, livestock and poultry, value of products sold, irri­
gated land, direct marketing, type of organization, corporate structure, operator
characteristics, fertilizer and chemicals, interest expense, machinery and equip­




16
ment, energy expenditures and fuel storage capacity, selected production expenses,
and market value of land and buildings.
The Census Bureau recognizes the importance of consulting with data users con­
cerning questions to be asked in the census. Just as the agriculture industry
changes, so must the content of the agriculture census in order to meet the data
users’ needs. In planning the census of agriculture, the Census Bureau consults with
farmers, ranchers, farm organizations, universities, trade associations, county and
state governments, manufacturers of products used by farmers, and other Federal
agencies.
The Statistical Reporting Service (SRS), USDA also collects statistical information
from agricultural operations. The SRS programs and the census of agriculture pro­
grams are viewed as complementary by the Census Bureau and most agriculture
data users. There are some areas of duplication; but when the differences are re­
viewed, the slight overlap is justified. Some justifications are:
The census is the only source of consistent county-level agriculture data for
the Nation.
Acreage, crops harvested, livestock sales, and so forth, are needed to provide
information on the structure of agriculture—characteristics of farms by type,
size, form of ownership/operation.
Census data are used to benchmark nonprobability surveys of the USDA.
A

p p e n d ix

B .— O t h e r R e l a t e d S t a t is t ic s / D
P r o files

e v e l o p in g

Co un ty

A statistical profile of counties can be developed from the census of agriculture
and the Bureau’s other censuses and surveys. Detailed demographic and economic
information about people and their living quarters is available from the censuses of
population and housing, which are conducted every 10 years in years ending in “ 0.”
Various series of state reports from these censuses include information for all coun­
ties and selected cities. These reports include information on the population and its
characteristics such as persons in the household, age, sex, and race. The reports also
include data on general social and economic characteristics such as occupation,
income, and commuting distance to work. Some reports include data on farm and
rural populations. Virtually all of the data appear on computer tapes in greater
detail and for smaller geographic areas than in the printed reports. Annual popula­
tion estimates by county are available from the current surveys program.
The annual series of County Business Patterns reports provide information on the
nonfarm sector of the economy at the county level. Because County Business Pat­
terns statistics provide information on establishments, payroll, and employment by
industry classifications, they are useful for analyzing the industrial Structure of re­
gions and making basic economic studies of small areas. Data for all counties are
available on computer tape.
Limited data on the business and industrial activities of rural counties are avail­
able from the economic censuses, which are taken every 5 years for years ending in
“ 2” and “ 7.” Generally, only data on total wholesale trade and total retail trade and
10 major retail kinds of businesses are available for rural counties from the cen­
suses of wholesale and retail trade. Normally, no data are available from the census
of manufactures for rural counties. Thus, County Business Patterns is the best
source for data on the economic structure of rural areas.
Another useful reference source for county-level data is the County and City Data
Book. It includes information from the Bureau’s censuses and 60 other governmen­
tal and private sources in one volume.
A p p e n d ix C .— A g r ic u l t u r e C e n s u s D a t a U ser s

and

U ses

The agriculture census is the major source of information about the Nation’s agri­
culture industry. The census of agriculture claims a broad and diversified group of
data users. From academia to governments to agribusiness, census data are used
daily.
Congress uses census data to draft legislation, review existing laws, and determine
trends. Governments use agriculture census data in programs which affect agricul­
tural production. The data are used to administer conservation and commodity pro­
grams, develop estimates of farm income and other economic indicators, and to con­
duct research. State and local governments use the data for economic planning, ad­
ministering programs, and developing land use policy.




17

Farmer organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Nation­
al Grange, the National Farmers Organization, and the National Farmers Union
use census data to evaluate farm programs, determine membership potential, and
develop marketing programs. Agribusiness determines market share, conducts re­
search, and locates distribution and retail facilities based on census information.
Many companies and cooperatives determine their market potential using agricul­
ture census data.
Economic and demographic analyses are an important part of good legislation.
Adequate information is the key to economic and demographic analyses. The census
of agriculture provides that information but not always in the form needed by a
data user. The Bureau recognizes this and now offers special tabulations on a cost
reimbursable basis. Sometimes users need data in more detail or in a different form
than they are published. The Bureau will prepare a cost estimate at no charge and
advise users on data quality of the items they are requesting. Through our regular
data dissemination program and these special tabulations, the Bureau is striving to
serve its data users better.
A p p e n d ix D .— D a t a A v a i l a b il i t y
The 1982 Census of Agriculture final data are available in published reports for
each state. The state reports contain state-level information and data for each
county with 10 or more farms. Before these reports are published, a short prelimi­
nary report is issued for each state and county. Both final and preliminary data are
available on computer tape, while only preliminary data are available on diskette
for personal computers. Again, if published information does not meet the needs of
a data user, the Bureau will consider doing a special tabulation on a cost reimbursa­
ble basis. These special tabulations can be tailored specifically to the users’ needs.
All of the information is available through several sources. First, any of our infor­
mation can be accessed by contacting the Census Bureau. The data also can be
found in the Library of Congress and more than 1,200 Federal Depository Libraries
across the country. Another way of obtaining the information is through the State
Data Centers. These centers were established in 49 states as a joint effort between
the Census Bureau and each state government. This program helps provide easier
access to Federal statistical information.
Another way to get census data is through two electronic information services.
CENDATA is available through an electronic service called DIALOG. CENDATA
provides information from all programs within the Census Bureau. Preliminary
data from the agriculture census are available through the AgriData Network.







CHART 1

Number of Farms

by

Si7a

Number of Farms in thousands
^ ¡1 9 8 2

jX^jl978
^1974
oo

Acres ir> Farms
U.S. Bureau of the Census




CHART 2

1982 Census of Agriculture
Value of Sales
Percent of Farms
> 3 Farms
^ S o le s

Sales Value (in thousands o f dollars)
U. S. Bureau of the Census




CHART 3

United States
Cattle and Calves Sold:
1982 and 1978
Number (in m I l i ons)
i
100

1982

90

70

^1978

78.0

80
71.

60

g

50
40

30. ¿33.0

30
□18.8

20 f-

m 1

10
0

Total

1-19

20-49

50-99

Number Sold Per Farm
U. S. Bureau of the Census

100-499

500+




CHART 4

Number (in m illions)
100

90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10

0

Total

U. S. Bureau of the Census

United States
Hogs and Pigs Sold:
1982 and 1978

to
45 ,6

Number Sold Per Farm







CHART 5

United States
Milk Cows Inventory
1982 and 1978
Number (in m illion s)
15 r
14 13 12

1982

m 1978

-

to

to

Total

<20

20-49

50-99

Number Per Farm
U.S. Bureau of the Census

100-499

500+




CHART

United States
Hens and Pullets of Laying Age Inventory
1982 and 1978
Number (in m illions)
350 r
310.
100.3
300

11978
245.0

250

I

200

ss

150 100

11982

I

-

37.3 44.5

50 9 6 13.4
0

1B 5
-

.XZZZfSSL

Total

U. S. Bureau of the Census

<3200
3200-9999 10000-19999
Inventory Per Farm

20000+




Hired Labor as a percent of gross sales
Year

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Percent
U.S. Bureau of the Census

9

10

11

12

13

14

15




CHART 8

Forti H u r Applied
1960 - 1982

tara* App]lad O n alJlSam)

F ertilizar C
xp«n»—
1969 - 1992

T.7

m Ë mËËËÈËè m
m m Ë Ë Ë Ë Ë Ëm
WÊÊSiÆiMÊË
ÊÊÊÊ M Ëz t

fcS

üb»

— ___ . — j-----------1
— ___. .— — j-------------------- »

t

l

t

i
i
S

. .«
4

— — -.i____ _____ >-...
— — - . i _____ ______ >.----------------- 1 . , . - « S

t

h a r m Afpllwl (in ■ iIJUm)




7

«

, i-

.... i
«

M




CHART 9

Percentage o f Ferae and Salee by
Age and Occupation« 1982
F R IN
AM G




STATEMENT OF WILLIAM G. LESHER, ASSISTANT SECRE­
TARY FOR ECONOMICS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICUL­
TURE
Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to be here today to testify before
the Joint Economic Committee on the evolution of agriculture and
the importance of the Census of Agriculture in measuring the eco­
nomic and social factors that have helped shape the direction of
this evolution. I have with me Wayne Rasmussen, Historian in the
Economic Research Service and David Harrington, Chief of the
Farm Sector Economics Branch of ERS. Both Wayne Rasmussen
and David Harrington contributed to the drafting of this testimony.
When I was growing up in Cass County, Indiana, in the late
1940’s and 1950’s, one of the greatest changes ever to affect Ameri­
can agriculture was taking place. Essentially, farmers were apply­
ing systems analysis to farm production, even though few people
had ever heard of that term. A team of USDA and North Carolina
State researchers had found that if a person improved every part
of the production process, the resulting increase in productivity,
how ever measured, would far exceed the sum of the parts. Since
that discovery in the late 1940’s, American agriculture has been
transformed.
The Census of Agriculture provides us with the yardstick data
with which we measure such changes and their impact on farms
and the farm population. Between 1945 and 1982, the number of
farms in Cass County decreased from 2,056 to 946, while the aver­
age size increased from 120 to 235 acres. The amount of land in
farming declined slightly but production increased markedly. Corn
production increased from 2.5 million bushels in 1945 to 12.9 mil­
lion in 1982, and soybeans moved from 391 thousand bushels to 2.5
million. Wheat increased by about 20 percent. The number of cattle
fell by one-half but the number of hogs doubled.
The change that has taken place in Cass County, over the last
four decades, reflects the types of changes that took place generally
across the United States— a sharp decline in the number of farms,
a marked increase in farm size, and major increases in productivi­
ty. These changes have effected every aspect of the food chain from
farm production to domestic consumption and international trade.
The basic data collected which helps us to understand these
changes comes from the Census of Agriculture. However, data for
each of the years between censuses are developed by the Statistical
Reporting Service of the Department of Agriculture, often in coop­
eration with the Bureau of the Census. Analsyis of the data, vital
to policy and program determination and to decision-making by
farmers and agribusinesses is the responsibility of the Economic
Research Service.
(2 7 )

4 0 -7 6 2




0

- 8

5

- 3

28
M

e a s u r in g

Ch a n g e

in

A

m e r ic a n

A g r ic u l t u r e ,

1840-1970

The Bureau of the Census first sought information on agriculture
in its Census of 1840. Agriculture showed a steady growth over the
next two decades, but was to undergo a marked change during the
decade of the Civil War. In 1862, Congress passed and President
Abraham Lincoln signed four major laws affecting American agri­
culture—the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act, the Department of
Agriculture Act, and the Transcontinental Railroad Act. Later in
the decade, stimulated by patriotism, high prices, and a seemingly
unlimited demand, farmers put more land into production. Hand
labor was replaced with horsedrawn machinery in many farm oper­
ations. Between 1860 and 1870 the number of farms, according to
the Census, increased from 2.0 million to 2.6 million. Acreage per
farm declined from 199 to 153. The value per acre rose from $16.32
to $18.26.
For the remainder of the nineteenth century, with the total
number of farms increasing to 5.7 million by 1900, both total pro­
duction and farm productivity continued to increase. The land
grant colleges, the Department of Agriculture, and, after 1887, the
State agricultural experiment stations, were encouraging farmers
to adopt more productive methods. During most of the period, pro­
duction was increasing faster than effective domestic and foreign
demand, with periods of price-depressing surpluses.
From the turn of the century until World War I, production and
productivity leveled off. Supply and demand were essentially in
balance for most agricultural commodities. World War I brought a
sharp increase in domestic and world demand for food. From 1910
to 1920, wheat acreage harvested increased from 44.3 million acres
to 62.4 million and production from 625 million bushels to 843 mil­
lion. Farmers were told “Food Will Win the War,” at the same
time increases in prices strengthened the patriotic incentives to
plow up more land. Then, with the end of the war and the restora­
tion of agriculture in Europe, foreign demand slackened and Amer­
ican farm prices fell. In 1919 a farmer could sell his wheat for an
average price of $2.16, but in 1921 for only $1.03. For more than a
decade, prices went up and down but with an overall downward
trend. The situation was aggravated by the rigidity of nonagricultural prices and wages, creating a new gulf between farm income
and costs. The continuing farm depression was one of the causes of
the Great Depression of 1929. Income per farm, according to the
Census, was $1,196 in 1920 and $651 in 1930. The number of farms
had decreased slightly from 1920 to 1930, with the average size of
farms increasing from 149 acres to 157 acres.
Farmers, backed with data from the Census and the Department
of Agriculture that reflected their problems, called for Federal
action. Attempts were made at first to stabilize markets through
cooperatives, but conditions continued to worsen. In 1933, Congress
passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act.
That Act, signed on May 12, 1933 by President Franklin D. Roo­
sevelt, gave the Secretary of Agriculture authority to reduce acre­
age or production by voluntary agreements, to enter into market­
ing agreements with processors to control prices paid to producers,
and to license processors and others with the aim of eliminating




29
unfair practices. Farmers could receive rental of benefit payments
and the Department of Agriculture could spend money to expand
markets or remove surpluses. These activities were to be financed
by a processing tax paid by the first processor of a commodity.
The year after the Act was passed Secretary of Agriculture
Henry A. Wallace wrote: “The present program for readjusting pro­
ductive acreage to market requirements is admittedly but a tempo­
rary method of dealing with an emergency.” Yet 50 years later this
“temporary method of dealing with an emergency,” while modified,
still remains in effect.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act was aimed primarily at im­
proving the financial situation of the average farmer. It was fol­
lowed by a number of agencies and laws aimed at particular farm
problems. The Resettlement Administration, later the Farm Securi­
ty Administration and now the Farmers Home Administration, was
established by President Roosevelt in May 1935 to help farm fami­
lies facing major financial difficulties and to retire submarginal
land from production.
Congress passed the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act on May 12,
1933 and followed it with the Farm Credit Act of June 16, 1933.
The Farm Credit Administration was established in June 1933, to
handle both emergency and long-term credit programs. The Rural
Electrification Administration was established in 1935.
The Soil Conservation Service was established on April 17, 1935
under authority of the Soil Conservation Act of 1935. It succeeded
the Soil Erosion Service of 1933. One of the most acute of the de­
pression-born problems was that of getting food to people in the
midst of surpluses. Beginning in 1933, the Federal Government un­
dertook direct distribution of surplus food. School lunch, milk, lowcost milk, and food stamp programs followed.
The production control provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment
Act of 1933 were invalidated in 1936 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
That judicial body ruled that the Act was unconstitutional because
of the processing tax and because the production control provisions
were in restraint of trade. The law was replaced in part by the Soil
Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, which attempted to
reduce production of surplus crops by payment for improved land
use and conservation practices. However, surpluses began to accu­
mulate and new legislation was passed. The Agricultural Adjust­
ment Act of 1938 stressed an “ever-normal granary” plan of bal­
anced abundance, with non-recourse loans for cooperators, acreage
allotments, marketing quotas for crops designated by Congress as
basic to the economy, and a goal of “parity” prices and incomes for
farmers. The parity price was the price for a commodity which
would give purchasing power for articles that farmers bought
equivalent to the purchasing power of the commodity in the base
period, usually 1909 to 1914. Parity income was the per capita net
income of farm individuals from farming that had the same rela­
tionship to the per capita net income of individuals not on farms as
prevailed during the period from 1909 to 1914. This Act, with many
modifications, remains the basic agricultural price support and ad­
justment law in 1984.
Census data provides some measures of the effects of the legisla­
tion of the 1930's, although we must remember that this data fre­




30

quently requires interpretation to be meaningful. From 1930 to
1940, the number of farms declined from 6.3 million to 6.1 million,
the average farm size increased from 157 to 175 acres, farm popula­
tion remained stable, and the average net income per farm from
farming rose from $651 to $706. In general, these data indicate that
many of the forces that were to transform American agriculture
from 1945 to 1970 were in place by 1940.
World War II speeded up the rate of change and saw a new
factor—the application of systems analysis to farming, then called
the “package of practices.” Farmers adopted these new technol­
ogies to meet increased demands for farm products and to replace
scarce farm labor. The high wartime and postwar prices also en­
couraged farmers to adopt the new technologies. The number of
tractors on farms, for example, rose from 1.6 million in 1940 to 4.7
million in 1960, even though the number of farms declined from 6.1
million to 4.0 million.
World War II sent farm prices over 100 percent of parity and
Congress guaranteed high support prices for two years after the
cessation of hostilities. After this period, modifications of price sup­
port and adjustment legislation were marked by controversy and
compromise in the Congress. In the Agricultural Act of 1949, which
like the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 is still on the books,
major commodities were supported between 75 and 90 percent of
parity, depending on supply.
During the 1950,s, surpluses began to accumulate and the Con­
gress looked for ways to stimulate foreign trade. The Agricultural
Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, known as Public
Law 480, authorized the government to make agreements for the
sale of farm products for foreign currency, to make shipments for
emergency relief and other aid (i.e., Food for Peace), and to barter
farm products owned by the government for strategic materials.
Public Law 480 has proven so valuable that it has been extended
into the 1980,s, but it has not been a complete answer to the sur­
plus problem.
The Soil Bank program, established by the Agricultural Act of
1956, was yet another large-scale effort to deal with surpluses. The
goal was to bring about adjustment between supply and demand
for agricultural products by taking farmland out of production.
Two reserves were established—an acreage reserve aimed at a
short-term withdrawal of land planted to major commodities, and a
conservation reserve which allowed producers to withdraw any des­
ignated land from agriculture for a period of up to 10 years. In
1957, 21 million acres were in the acreage reserve and 29 million
acres in the conservation reserve. Various other types of land re­
tirement programs were in effect in the 1960,s.
In 1970, the Census reported that the United States had 3.0 mil­
lion farms, averaging 373 acres each, and that the farms were aver­
aging $5,754 per year income from farming. Changes in farming
and in farm productivity on a scale never before seen had taken
place between 1940 and 1970. The next decade was to see, economic
shifts that were almost as unique as the shifts in production taking
place in the preceding decades.




31
T h e 1970's: H o w T h e y C h a n g e d th e F a r m S ector

The agricultural sector entered the 1970's with considerable
excess production capacity. Farm program payments were at
record levels; as many as 62 million acres of land were held out of
production. United States exports of grains and oilseeds totalled 57
million metric tons, and the number of farms had declined by more
than 50 percent over the previous two decades. But, several forces
appeared upon the scene over the first few years of the 1970's:
Strong export growth led by increased trade with the cen­
trally planned economies and by the lower value of the dollar
against major foreign currencies;
An apparently tightening world food situation signalled by
production shortfalls in widespread parts of the world;
Accelerating inflation in the general economy;
Increases in the value of farm assets at faster rates than in­
flation in the general economy; and
A series of input price shocks led by energy prices in 1974
and again in 1979.
The effects of these forces were felt in returning of set-aside
lands into production, and the rapid expansion of U.S. exports of
grains and oil-seeds to 146 million metric tons by the end of the
1970's— nearly triple their 1970 level.
Farm families also discovered that their assets were becoming
more valuable. They were getting wealthier— at least on paper.
Many found that lenders were quite willing to finance major land
purchases on the basis of the increased value of the farmer's hold­
ings and the expected continuing increase in values of agricultural
land. Their net worths increased with every expansion. It was
viewed as a no-risk proposition, for many believed that land prices
would never turn down.
Farm families, like others in the economy, also found that inter­
est rates increased approximately as fast as the inflation rate. This,
combined with price increases for purchased inputs that were sen­
sitive to either the inflation rate or the prices of energy, created a
squeeze on the net margins farmers use to service land debt, at just
the time that land debt and servicing costs were increasing rapidly.
The resulting squeeze on cash flow led many farmers to “monetize"
the capital gains on their land by rolling over short-term debt into
land mortgages. The cash flow shortfalls were more than offset by
the capital gains on farmland, so both the farmers and their lend­
ers were willing to continue to expand and roll over debt.
Farm asset values, farm debts, and net worths of farmers all
grew faster than the inflation rate throughout the 1970's (Chart 1).
Both farmers and nonfarm investors found that investments in
farmland were excellent hedges against inflation, and provided
ways to reduce taxable income.
Another phenomenon of the 1970's was a resurgence of popula­
tion growth in rural areas. The growth of “exurban" (beyond the
suburbs) fringes of “farmettes" (very small acreages) and rural resi­
dences around urban centers was well documented by the end of
the 1970's. Lifestyle motives for living in rural areas and on small,
part-time farms led to increases in the numbers of very small
farms (less than $10,000 of sales) initially in the Northeast and the




32
Pacific Northwest, but more recently in most of the Atlantic and
Pacific coastal states.
All of these changes led to a slowing of the decline in farm num­
bers, but also to an increase in the “dualism" of U.S. agriculture.
The farm sector was becoming increasingly characterized by a
large number of very small farms which accounted for little pro­
duction; a small, but increasing number of large farms which ac­
counted for most of the value of agricultural products sold; and a
disappearing middle group that faced severe pressures to either get
bigger or get smaller and find ways to supplement their farm in­
comes in order to improve their economic prospects.
Over the 1970’s, strong export markets and relatively buoyant
market prices in most years led to a nearly steady decline in gov­
ernment support costs and government payments to farmers from
their 1973 peak. However, the increasing role of general economic
policy in determining the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural com­
modities abroad, and the increasing role of tax and macro-economic
policy in determining the investment climate for farm assets were
becoming evident to farmers and policymakers alike over the
decade.
W

here

W

e

A

re

N ow

The conditions of the 1970's abruptly changed in the early 1980's.
Generally growing world food supplies, combined with a strong
dollar and many other factors, reduced the export demand for U.S.
agricultural products. Control of the rate of inflation led to a re­
trenchment of the buoyant expectations of the 1970,s and a read­
justment of farmland values. The decline in the inflation rate was
accompanied by lowered expectations for net returns to land, and
by higher real interest rates (interest rates adjusted for inflation,
Chart 2), which in turn led to a decline in land values that started
in 1981. The legacies of the 1970,s are still with us in the form of
significant financial adjustment problems for some farmers—espe­
cially those who entered the 1980's in a highly leveraged position.
These farms have a high cost structure because of high debt/assets
ratios, high real interest rates, and prices of purchased inputs that
reflect the effects of past inflation. Government costs for support of
commodity prices and farm incomes increased rapidly in the early
1980's as international demands slackened and as prices and costs
veered sharply away from the inflationary paths anticipated when
the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 was enacted.
The 1982 Census of Agriculture provides us with a benchmark of
how the farm sector has changed. During the late 1970,s, farm
numbers slowed their 40 year decline and now stand at 2.2 million
farms (Chart 3). Sizes of farms by both acreage and sales class
measures have increased and the “dualistic” nature of the size dis­
tribution is becoming even more apparent (Charts 4 and 5). The
farm sector continues to be characterized by a concentration of
small farms which account for a small proportion of production,
and a few large farms that account for most of the value of agricul­
tural products sold (Chart 6). This chart shows that the smallest 50
percent of farms (the 1.2 million that sell less than $10,000 of sales
per year) account for only about 5 percent of production. By con­




33
trast the largest 5 percent of farms (the largest 110 thousand
farms) account for approximately 50 percent of production. Farms
in the larger sales classes (over $100,000) are expanding in number
while farms in the more moderate sales classes are declining in
number (except for the lowest sales class).
As an illustration, a cash grain farm in the Corn Belt with ap­
proximately 160 acres would have about $60,000 in gross sales at
current yields and prices. Farms of this size only partially employ
the farm family; thus, they tend to provide relatively low family
incomes. Such farmers face the choices of expanding to a size that
will provide an adequate family living, contracting their farm oper­
ations and seeking off-farm employment, or selling the farm and
taking non-farm employment. Since the first option is sometimes
difficult for operators of smaller farms to follow, many choose
either of the latter two options, thus reinforcing the “dualism" of
the farm sector.
Ownership and tenure of farm families have changed since the
1930's but had evolved to fairly stable patterns by the 1970's (Chart
7). Owner-operator farms (full ownership) continue to dominate
among the smaller sales classes; but the larger commercial farms
are predominantly part owners, on average renting about as much
land as they own. Full tenants have declined in number to only 11
percent of farms; and they are no longer the social and economic
problems that tenant farms were in the 1930's. Contrary to some
popular beliefs, non-family corporate farms are not a threat to
family-farm agriculture. Even though non-family corporations in
farming increased from 1978 to 1982, their numbers are very small
(7,100 farms in 1982, one-third of 1 percent) and their share of pro­
duction is less than 5 percent. The 52,000 family corporations in
farming are essentially family farms which have found the corpo­
rate form of organization preferable from a financial and tax man­
agement standpoint. Finally, non-operator ownership of farmland
is increasing but most of the non-operator owners are either retired
farmers or non-farm heirs of farm operator families.
Dominant crop enterprises in 1982 included corn, wheat, soy­
beans, and hay as the crops accounting for the most total acreage
(Charts 8 and 9); however, hay was grown on more farms than any
other single crop, followed closely by corn for grain or silage. Domi­
nant livestock enterprises now include: beef cattle, 957 thousand
farms; hogs and pigs, 329 thousand farms; milk cows, 278 thousand
farms; and fed cattle 240 thousand farms (Chart 10).
Changes in the farm sector, which the Census of Agriculture has
documented over the years, indicate progressive integration of
farms with the rest of the economy and progressive industrializa­
tion of farms. Farms and agriculture are no longer isolated and un­
affected by what happens in the rest of the economy. They are in­
creasingly evolving to either commercial businesses or small, parttime enterprises engaged in by people whose primary source of
livelihood is not farming. Rural people are also becoming more like
their urban counterparts.




34
T h e R ole

of the

Census

in

T r a c k in g C h a n g e

Accurate and timely information and a correct perception of the
agricultural sector is essential for the effective design and adminis­
tration of policies. We have mentioned the changing character of
farms, and their increasing tendency toward a dual structure. With
such diversity, it makes it more difficult for any single set of agri­
cultural policies to satisfy everyone.
We have also mentioned the increasing role of general economic
policies and other overall policies in determining the well-being of
the farm sector and in determining the budgetary cost of farm
commodity programs. Over the years, the Census of Agriculture
has proven an invaluable source of information for discovering and
documenting the changing nature of the farm sector and the ef­
fects of these policies on individual farms. The farm problems that
emerge can only be discovered and documented through a compre­
hensive Census and appropriate follow-on surveys. In today's world,
it appears that information solely on organization, production, and
traditional inputs is an insufficient basis for making or administer­
ing policy. The emerging situation of increasing numbers of small
farms, increasing concentration of production among large farms,
new types of enterprises, and unique ownership and financial orga­
nizations require the best information possible.
The problems of identifying and enumerating farms and of gath­
ering financial information crucial to the setting of policy will
become more important in the future, not less important. The
Census of Agriculture is one cornerstone of the information system
necessary for setting rational and supportive public policies for the
agricultural sector.
The Department of Agriculture is the other major cornerstone in
the information system essential to maintaining our Nation's pro­
ductive agriculture and to selling our agricultural products. When
the Department was established in 1862, its major duty was to “ac­
quire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful
information on subjects connected with agriculture." The Commis­
sioner of Agriculture was given the duty to “acquire and preserve
all information which he can obtain by means of books and corre­
spondence, by practical and scientific experiments, by the collec­
tion of statistics, and by any other appropriate means." This law,
with some modification, is still in effect. Several Department agen­
cies “acquire and diffuse" information, with the Statistical Report­
ing Service and the Economic Research Service being responsible
for these functions in collecting and interpreting agricultural sta­
tistics. This role is even more important today than it was in 1862.
Every part of the American economy is concerned with the con­
tinuing economic evolution of agriculture—an evolution that can
be understood only through a strong, efficient system of economic
information.
E ffects

of

E c o n o m ic

and

O t h e r P o l ic ie s

Finally, Mr. Chairman, you requested information on the effects
of farm programs and other Federal policies on the structure and
performance of the agricultural economy. To answer this request,
let me say that I believe economic forces are primarily responsible




35
for the decline of farm numbers from their 6.5 million peak in the
mid 1930's to today's level of 2.2 million— a decline that continued
through years of heavy government involvement in agriculture
during which several different types of policies were tried. Rapid
adoption of labor-saving technologies occurred throughout the
period. These labor saving technologies allowed families to operate
much larger farms, but they also had the effect of making smaller
farms and older technologies uneconomic, leading to pressures to
either expand the farm or sell out to an expanding neighbor. In es­
sence, economic forces have overshadowed, to a large extent, the
other forces that may have been pulling in different directions.
This process was recognized by the late 1950's as the “treadmill
of technological advance." Professor Willard Cochrane stated in his
book entitled “A City Man's Guide to the Farm Problem":
[T]he innovators reap the gains of technological advance during the early
phases of adoption, but after the improved technology has become industry wide,
the gains to innovators are eroded away through falling product prices or rising
land prices or a combination of the two, and in the long run the specific income
gains to farmers are wiped out and farmers are back where they started—in a no
profit position. In this sense, technological advance puts farmers on a treadmill.

As farms attempt to expand to capture the benefits of technological
advances and economies of size, they must necessarily absorb other
small farms— leading to the rapid decline of farm numbers experi­
enced from the late 1940's to the late 1960's.
The treadmill just described brought some positive benefits as
well as enormous economic and social adjustment problems. Farms
themselves became more efficient and better able to support farm
families, consumers benefited from the lower food costs that re­
sulted from a more efficient, dynamic farm sector, and the farm
sector was transformed and poised for the rapid expansion of
export demand that was to take place in the 1970's. Some farm
families who migrated to cities were unable to achieve standards of
living comparable to non-farm workers; but others fared fairly well
because of the skills and work habits brought from agriculture.
Other families were able to remain in the rural areas that in­
creased steadily over the 1960's and 1970's.
By the late 1960's and 1970's increasing off-farm employment op­
portunities in rural areas allowed smaller farmers to supplement
their income through off-farm jobs. This factor, along with the at­
tractiveness of owning and operating a small farm, led to a slowing
of the rate of decline of farm numbers— especially among smaller
farms. For the large farms, economies of size improved their eco­
nomic positions such that they could bid more for land than could
medium-size farms. Since their per unit costs were lower than their
smaller competitors— and usually lower than the prevailing market
prices— every expansion improved their net incomes.
While other economic forces were also at work in the transfor­
mation of agriculture, there is general agreement that these— tech­
nological advances, economies of size, and consolidation of small
farms into economic units— are the most important economic
forces. However, they can be accelerated or decelerated by a
number of public sector policies, not all of which are specific to ag­
riculture.




36
Probably one of the more important set of policies that affect
farm structure and performance are the macro-economic policies
that control inflation, interest rates, and international currency ex­
change rates. The agricultural sector has been shown to be espe­
cially sensitive to these variables. For example, farmland values in­
creased faster than the inflation rate in the 1970’s and declined
sharply when the inflation rate declined. Interest expenses now ac­
count for 15 percent of all production expenses—the largest single
item of farm expenses. Similarly, demand for our farm products de­
clined. Readjustment difficulties resulted from the world-wide re­
cession of the 1980’s as well as from the macro-economic policies
necessary to control the inflationary spiral that gripped the Nation
at the end of the 1970’s. We do not have enough evidence to defini­
tively say what the effects of these policies have been on the struc­
ture of agriculture—whether they have accelerated or decelerated
the trends embodied in the overall economic forces.
Tax policies are also cited as important policy factors affecting
agriculture. Tax provisions that affect agriculture receive a lot of
attention because several tax regulations and decisions have cre­
ated ways of converting current income into net worth or into cap­
ital gains income without liability for paying current income taxes.
The most mentioned of these include:
The option to use cash accounting methods;
Unlimited write-off of farm losses against nonfarm income;
“Current expensing” of investments in orchards and vine­
yards;
Capital gains treatment of income from the sale of certain
classes of livestock such as breeding and dairy animals; and
Tax credits and accelerated depreciation for certain types of
single purpose structures such as hog facilites or grain storage
facilities.
To the extent that such tax policies affect agriculture more than
they do other industries, their effects on the farm sector may have
been:
To make current net cash income (which is calculated with
cash incomes and expenditures, similar to cash basis income
tax) a downward biased measure of the economic returns of
farmers;
To cause asset values to become inflated by their expected
returns as tax shelters;
To foster ownership of farm assets by those who can best
take advantage of the tax benefits; and
To stimulate more investment in agriculture than would oth­
erwise be the case.
Also, credit policy apparently can accelerate or decelerate the
rate of change in farm numbers and sizes. Limited access to credit
was a severe problem of agriculture up until about the 1950’s. Lim­
ited availability of credit prevented many farms from attaining
sizes that could support the farm family. Providing improved
access and terms for farm operating and investment capital was a
major policy tool in aiding the transition of the farm sector from
one dominated by small, uneconomic, low income farms, to a struc­
ture that now includes large as well as small farms, with incomes
and net worths more nearly comparable to the nonfarm economy.




37
In the 1970's access to credit, along with inflationary expectations,
contributed to the rapid growth of large family farms. To the limit­
ed extent that subsidized credit or preferential credit terms are
available, they most likely have had the effect of maintaining more
resources in agricultural production than would otherwise be the
case.
Commodity policies have also likely influenced the structure of
agriculture—although there have been so many different types of
programs they likely pull in different directions. The effects of
these commodity programs on the structure of the farm sector have
not been proven to either accelerate or decelerate the consolidation
and growth of farms, and hence the decline in numbers of farms.
Some suggest that income and price supports— such as for wheat,
feed grains, cotton, and rice— favor the larger and better estab­
lished farms because the benefits received by farmers are propor­
tional to their volume of production. They conclude that such pro­
grams must accelerate the growth and consolidation of such farms.
However, others point out that cash grain farmers are not nearly
as large as some other types of farms, nor is grain production as
concentrated among the large farms as production of broilers, beef
feeding, vegetable and fruit— none of which have had extensive and
direct government involvement.
In addition, others argue that highly structured policies, such as
for tobacco and peanuts, have probably maintained more farms in
the production of these crops than there would have been other­
wise. You can see from comparing Charts 8 and 9 that many more
farms are producing tobacco on smaller acreages than any other
commodity.
Still others argue that, if commodity programs were not used to
stabilize prices and returns in some sectors, then the private sector
would evolve its own methods and adjustments for handling the
uncertainty. They point to broiler production, which has had no
commodity programs nor any other direct form of government in­
volvement, and which evolved over the 1950's and 60's into a
highly sophisticated group of producers who contract with farmers
to grow out broilers for a contractual margin. This subsector of ag­
riculture has probably departed the farthest from the traditional
owner-operator family farm model that still continues to character­
ize most of agriculture.
Su m m a r y

We have seen, Mr. Chairman, that agriculture has gone through
and is still going through changes since this Nation won its inde­
pendence. Economic opportunities led farmers to move west and
open new lands, to adopt new technologies as they were developed,
and to turn from self-sufficiency to commercial agriculture. From
our beginnings, when Congress made public lands readily available
to farmers, until today, when farming is undergirded by a system
of research, education, regulation, price support, and export promo­
tion, the American people have recognized the importance of farm­
ing. In 1790, over 90 percent of working Americans were farmers;
today 2.6 percent of the population provides our food and fiber.




38
This is indicative of the scope of both the economic and social
changes that have taken place in farming and farm life.
In my judgment, all policies operate in an environment of eco­
nomic forces which contribute to structural change in the farm
sector. Public sector policies can only slightly accelerate or slightly
decelerate the economic forces that are already at work. Many poli­
cies affect the structure and performance of the agricultural sector
in a variety of ways and their joint effect cannot be precisely deter­
mined. In addition, it is difficult to determine whether such policies
are affecting the agricultural industry differently, or to a greater
extent, than similar types of policies are affecting other industries.
It is difficult to measure, at least with any precision, the impacts
of economic, social, and governmental forces on the American
farmer. But whatever they have been, Americans enjoy a plentiful
supply of wholesome, varied foods at the lowest cost of any people
in the world. Overseas consumers of American products also are as­
sured of quality products at reasonable cost. However measured,
American agriculture is one of the great success stories of the
world.




39
CHART 1:




FARM REAL ESTATE VALUES AND TOTAL FARM LIABILITIES, 1970-1983

(YEARS)

40
CHART 2:




INFLATION AND INTEREST RATES, 1970-1983

(Years)




41
F A R M NUMBERS AN D SIZES, 1930-1982

Acres/Farm

CHART 3:

(Years)







(T h o u sa n d s o f Farm s)

43
FARMS BT ACRE CLASSES, 1982

(Thousands

of

Farm s)

CHART 5:

(Acres)

40-762 0 - 8 5 - 4




44
Chart 6:

Concentration o f Farm Numbers and Farm Production, 1982
"G reater than"
Scale

(PERCENT!

(PERCENT)

"L ess than”
Scale

(GROSS SALES #1QCO)

•

Reading from l e f t sc a le — The 50 percent o f farms that are le s s than
$ 10 ,0 0 0 in gross sa le s produce 5 percent o f to ta l ag ricu ltu ral pro­
duction.

m Reading

fronTthe rig h t s c a le — The 5 percent o f farms with s a le s greater
than $200,000 produce 50 percent o f to ta l production.




45

(Millions o Farms)
f

CHART 7: TENURE OF FARM OPERATORS, 1930-1982




(Tears)




(Millions of Acres)

N

*

\\,x ,\ \ V '*\ N X S X V s
com-|%

8

i!

4-

JL

wheat
soybeans
hay

vn X X nx V x v

sorghum- -V\'
\VN
cotton
oats
barleyorchards
vegetables.

3

potatoes
tobacco
nuroeryj




^ V vX v A




(Millions of Farms)

0

O

-

0

»

0

Id

0

i

1... » .. L- .1 ,
.

corn
wheat

0

in

0

ft

0

0

0

D
»

ip

-*

.[ , - i — . I
-■!

H

%
o

soybeans
hay-

w
æ
§

aorghum
cotton
oata
barley

-V V W V I

a

orchards
vegetablea
potatoea

'I
tobacco

m

nursery.




a
8
M
§
O
T
w
K
o
s
a
►
t
j
o
t
so

o
o
N
>




(Millions of Farms)

O
*
'" T O 'V V V

W

Q
a

o
^

o
C
O

o
«
0

\ n T t- V v -4 V V X T V T I
v ------- l

\'\'’v\\ \\ V \ \ W \\ \ \ v \ \ \ \ \ s
.
0\
hogs -

H
H
*
o

\

nilk cows-\\\

w
o

fed cattle -

sheep

00
M
3
w
s
rs

broilers -

hens

turkeys -




V
O
00
K
)

STATEMENT OF RONALD C. WIMBERLEY, DEPARTMENT OF
SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY, NORTH CAROLINA
STATE UNIVERSITY, RALEIGH
A cknow ledgem ents

This presentation is, in part, a contribution of USDA CSRS Re­
gional Project S-148, “Changing Structure of Agriculture: Causes,
Consequences and Policy Implications,” through the North Caroli­
na Agricultural Research Service Project 11148. While the author
takes responsibility for the manuscript at hand, appreciation is ex­
pressed to S-148 research colleagues who have collectively devel­
oped various ideas, to Linda L. Reif for assistance in data prepara­
tion and computer analysis for the U.S. data, and to James McKen­
zie for additional assistance. Parts of the analysis draw from and
expand upon a line of studies conducted by the author on North
Carolina agricultural structure.
I n tr o d u c tio n

The most basic short term and most vital long term problem of
our society is to create and maintain an agricultural system which
can provide food and fiber. This is necessary in order to sustain
both social order and life itself. The issues addressed by this Com­
mittee cut across political lines. No political body can disregard
them. Rather, food and fiber, along with the farms that provide
them, are traditional concerns of political behavior.
Since Henry IV of France, a classic political slogan has expressed
the hope of, “A chicken in every pot.” The political logic of this
promise is still compelling.
So, how do we get the chickens—and other commodities—into
the pots? It is through that complex set of individual and group
interactions that must take place if we are to eat in a society
where so few produce and in a world where so many consume.
These social interactions are institutionalized into farming and ag­
ricultural systems. But even institutionalized systems must adapt
to changes in the physical and social worlds and must try to antici­
pate potential problems. Unless we can make these adjustments,
we lose the luxury of having to deal with other, less vital types of
social problems.
This Committee and its staff have already assembled and re­
viewed many of the materials pertaining to the policy questions
concerning our agricultural system.
The testimony offered here deals with certain sociological and
economic aspects of research made possible through a Cooperative
Regional Project supported through Hatch and state funds at 1865
and 1890 Land Grant Universities. The regional project, denoted as
S-148, “The Changing Structure of Agriculture: Causes, Conse-




(4 9 )

50
quences, and Policy Implications," has involved 21 sociologists^
economists, and several others from 17 universities in 13 States and
Puerto Rico.
These states, university experiment stations, and scientists are:
Alabama, Auburn University, Joseph J. Molnar; Florida, Universi­
ty of Florida, Keith Carter and Lionel Beaulieu; Georgia, Fort
Valley State College, Mack Nelson; Iowa, Iowa State University,
Peter F, Korsching; Kentucky, University of Kentucky; C. Milton
Coughenour; Louisiana, Louisiana State University, Quenton A.L.
Jenkins; Mississippi, Mississippi State University, C. Ray Sollie,
and Alcorn State University, Alfred Stewart; Missouri, University
of Missouri, William D. Heffernan; North Carolina, North Carolina
State University, Ronald C. Wimberley, and North Carolina A&T
State University, Sidney Evans, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State Uni­
versity, Luther Tweeten, and Langston State University, Keith
Hawxby and Irving Russell; Puerto Rico, University of Puerto Rico,
Edna Droz and Vivian Carro; South Carolina, Clemson University,
Thomas A. Lyson and Steven C. Lilley; Tennessee, University of
Tennessee, Robert H. Orr and O. Neal Walker; and Texas, Texas
A&M University, Howard W. Ladewig. The CSRS Representative
to this project is Eldon E. Weeks. The Administrative Advisor since
the inception of the work has been George J. Kriz, Associate Direc­
tor of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service at North
Carolina State University.
The objectives of the S-148 project on the changing structure of
agriculture have been:
1. To identify and measure characteristics of farms and re­
lated activities as organizational units.
2. To assess the impacts that external variations in social,
economic, and institutional factors have on farms of various
sizes and types.
3. To assess the impact of organizational characteristics on
career commitment and well-being of individuals and families
on farms.
4. To assess the development of farm sizes and types as relat­
ed to population change, patterns of man-land relationships,
and community structure.
Sketched into a model, the structural conditions measured in Ob­
jective 1 are effected by external causes including technology,
credit, markets, information, and public policy. The nature of such
relationships between external conditions and farm structure are
sought via Objective 2. In turn, Objective 3 is to see how structural
differences relate to the commitments of those who farm as an oc­
cupation and to the well-being or quality-of-life of farm households.
Objective 4 is to learn more of how differences in agriculture relate
to community and social structure for places dominated by differ­
ent types of farm structure.
The cumulative findings of the sociologists and economists on
this project, as it has been conducted in the various states on vari­
ous objectives, cannot be covered on a single occasion or in a single
report. Indeed, S-148 researchers anticipate a symposium and an
anthology of reports on these objectives. An extensive bibliography
already exists from these studies. However, the Appendix to this
presentation contains a succinct review of S-148’s findings.




51

Most of the material reported here deals with the first objective
on the measurement of agricultural structure and how it varies
across the nation, its regions, its states, and down to the county-bycounty level. Next, several trends in these characteristics are to be
highlighted. Third, some thoughts will be offered about the rela­
tionship of agricultural structure and community structure. Final­
ly, some future research directions will be identified along with
further needs to monitor the S-148 objectives.







FIGURE 1

REGIONAL PROJECT S -1 4 8 , "THE GHANSIUS STRUCTURE OF AGRICULTURE*
CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES# AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS"

CAUSES

STRUCTURE

ŒNSEQUQIQES

STRUCTURAL IMPACTS ON
in d iv id u a l s / f r m il ie s
IMPACTS FROM
EXTERNAL
SOURCES

(OBJ* 2)

ORGANIZATIONAL
FEAÜURES OF
EABM UNITS
(OBJ. 1 )

STRUCTURAL IMPACTS ON
OM UNITIES/SOCIAL LIFE

53
S t r u c t u r a l P r o file s o f

U.S.

A g r ic u ltu r e

When agricultural structure is measured or analyzed, it is often
through the use of single indicators such as farm acreage, gross
sales, or numbers of farms in a given location. Little attention has
been given to the use of indexes containing multiple indicators and
whether different types of indicators may show different patterns.
The need for structural indexing of the nation’s agriculture is
somewhat analogous to that used for other types of social and eco­
nomic indexes.
In order to gauge our agricultural structure, comparable indica­
tors are needed across places and time periods. The best source of
these data is the U.S. Census of Agriculture. In 1978, the most
recent time for which analyzable data are currently available, the
agricultural census contains a population of 3,053 counties from
which information is reported.
Structural indicators
Types of indicators.—On the basis of their social, organizational,
or structural connotations, 22 indicators of county-level farm struc­
ture are obtained from the 1978 Census. These fall into categories
of scale, ownership, operation, operator characteristics, and labor
resources. They are described as follows:
Scale
1. Total number of farms in county.
2. Proportion of county's land in farms.
3. County's mean farm size in acres.
4. Number of small farms in county having annual sales
less than $2,500.
5. Total value of farm product sales in county.
6. Total value of farm real estate in county.
Ownership
7. Unincorporated individual and family owners.
8. Partnerships.
9. Corporations including those owned by families.
Operation
10. Full-owner operators.
11. Part-owner operators.
12. Tenant farm operators.
Operator characteristics
13. Principal occupation of the farm operators, i.e., full- or
part-time farmers.




54

14. Operators' residences either on or off the farm.
15. Mean age of farm operators in county.
Labor resources

16. Number of farms having hired workers.
17. Number of farms with 10 or more hired workers.
18. Total number of hired farm workers in county.
19. Expenses for contract labor.
20. Expenses for customwork.
21. Expenses for energy and petroleum products.
22. Estimated market value of all farm machinery and equip­
ment.
Findings 1

To learn if these 22 variables represent one thing or several—to
see if there are one or more separate types of agricultural struc­
ture—these indicators were statistically analyzed by the principal
axis technique for factor analysis. Factor analysis tests correlations
among variables to find whether one or more underlying mathe­
matical dimensions might explain anything a set of measurements
share in common.
Indeed, it is discovered that agricultural structure is not simply
one thing; it is several. Three underlying factors were found. Agri­
cultural structure is three-dimensional. Further statistical analysis
using promax factor rotations of the three dimensions revealed the
following patterns among the structural indicators in the census
data:
Factor I. Corporate/commercial agriculture indicators

5. Greater gross sales.
6. Higher farm real estate value.
9. Corporate ownership.
17. Many farms with 10 or more hired workers.
18. Many hired workers in county.
19. Higher contract labor expenses.
20. Higher customwork expenses.
21. Higher energy expenses.
Factor II. Large farm agriculture

2. Proportion of county's land in farms.
4. Absence of small farms selling less than $2,500.
1 Technical details of this analysis are reported in a separate paper, “ Structural Profiles of
American Agriculture,” by the author.




55

6. Higher farm real estate value.
7. Individual/family ownership.
8. Partner ownership.
11. Part-owner operators.
12. Tenant operators.
13. Full-time farm operators.
14. Operators reside on farms.
15. Younger farm operators.
21. Moderate energy expenses.
22. High machine and equipment values.
Factor III. Smaller family farm agriculture
1. Many farms per county.
4. Many small farms selling less than $2,500.
7, Individual/family ownership.
10. Full-owner operators.
14. Operators reside on farms.
16. Many farms with hired workers.
Corporate/Commercial Agriculture is scale neutral but high in
sales, labor, and energy use. Large Farm Agriculture covers large
portions of land in counties where it is found and tends to have
part-owner or tenant operators that are full-time farmers. Howev­
er, they are younger than other types of farm operators, may
reside on the farms, and have high machine and equipment values
along with energy expenses while using little farm labor. Smaller
Family Farm Agriculture is found in counties with larger numbers
of farms that are independently owned and operated by their resi­
dents.
The most distinctive indicators in each dimension—those marked
with asterisks in the preceding list—are combined to form an index
of each dimension. The scores for each county may be used in vari­
ous types of analyses of the nation's agricultural structure. They
also may be used to map the existence of structural conditions
across the country.
The geography of the three U.S. agricultural structures
Just where do these structural dimensions of agriculture occur in
the United States? Are certain dimensions more prevalent in par­
ticular regions? What combinations of these dimensions are found
in the same counties? To answer these questions, each index score
is mapped, county-by-county, across the United States. Counties
higher on the index appear as the darker shades in the maps.
The map for each of these indexes shows its respective, national
distribution. When overlapped, these maps graphically demonstrate




56

the correlations among the structural indexes. Recall that, for sake
of convenience in diagrams, the maps show only categories of each
index.
In Map I, Corporate/Commercial Agriculture is predominate in
the mid-west and plains. It also occurs in farming areas of the Pa­
cific coast and southwest, the Texas Gulf coast, the Mississippi
Delta, and spots along the Atlantic coast including Florida, North
and South Carolina, and an area ranging from Maryland to Maine.
In Map II, Large Farm Agriculture is found in similar locations
with a bit less on the east coast and in the northwestern quadrant
of the county. Beyond these locations, Map III shows Smaller
Family Farming to be more of an eastern and southern activity
which stops about midway across the nation before resuming along
the west coast.
The three structural dimensions correlate moderately. Often, a
county near or above average levels in one index will be high in
one or both of the remaining indexes. On the other hand, many
counties are high in no dimensions or in only one dimension.
In general terms, a comparison of all three maps reveals many
counties are above average on all three dimensions. This is quite
common in the midwest, the plains, and in portions of the north­
west and the southwest as well as for certain eastern areas around
New York, the Carolinas, Florida, and the Mississippi Delta. The
only areas notably below average on all structural dimensions are
the southwestern mountain and desert areas. Most of the southern
counties are above average in one or more dimensions.
Policy implications of agricultural structural profiles

These findings suggest the need for agricultural policies which
are regionalized to fit the structural profile or types of agriculture
found in various types of farming areas. Index scores derived from
the respective structural dimensions may be used in comparative
descriptions of agricultural structure across States or regions, to
help establish trends of structural change over time, and in model­
ing relationships with causes and effects of the different dimen­
sions of agricultural structure.
The use of such indexes should be superior to analyses which just
use single indicators of structure such as acreage or gross sales. Im­
proved measurement should help bring better explanations and
predictions from scientific circles which, in turn, may lead to more
effective agricultural policies in the political and public arenas.




57

CORPORATE FARM STRUCTURE




MAP I




58

LARGE FARM STRUCTURE
m ap

11

SMALL FAMILY FARM STRUCTURE
MAP III

40-762 0 - 8 5 - 5




60
S o m e S p e c ia l T r e n d s

in

A

g r ic u l t u r a l

Structure

Trends in the three structural dimensions of agriculture are yet
to be established through comparable analysis at additional Census
periods. General trends toward fewer farms and, overall, toward
farms of larger average acreages already are well known. Also,
there are documented projections of a bimodal farm size distribu­
tion where there will be many small farms with little national eco­
nomic clout at one end of the size distribution and a few large acre­
age farms with substantial commercial output at the other end of
the spectrum.
Small farms
The survival of large farms, no doubt, will continue to be of im­
portance for consumers. But perhaps the value of smaller farms is
not as well recognized as is deserved. Smaller farm operations may
seem of little economic importance in contrast to earlier times
when proportionately more families were dependent upon subsist­
ence farming. Today, however, small farms may hold potentials
which are overlooked for household consumption, for offsetting or
supplementing family income, for local market needs, for decreas­
ing the need for income transfer payments, or for other functions.
Therefore, such trends in small-scale farming in local areas deserve
serious attention. Viable small farms may help contribute to the
solution of many other types of policy pressures.
Part-time farming
Another special trend in our nation's agriculture is part-time
farming. The occurrence of part-time farming has been an historic
transformation of how farms socially organize to produce food and
fiber. Part-time farming is an inherently more complex form of or­
ganization than many full-time farming operations. Part-timers
must coordinate more diverse types of activities and resources. Ac­
cording to the latest Census figures, nearly one-half of the U.S.
farm operators report their principal occupation as something
other than farming.
The emergence of part-time farming since 1929 has been a pro­
found social change in the structure of agriculture. Then, only one
of eight farmers worked as much as 100 days a year off their
farms. Since then, this measure of part-time farming has shown an
almost persistent increase with each Agricultural Census. Now,
more than four of each ten farmers report 100 or more days of offfarm work.
It is a mistake to assume that part-time farming is merely smallscale. It is prevalent in farms of larger commercial and acreage
levels as well. Farm policies which fail to account for part-time
farms will be incomplete.
Issu es f o r t h e

1980’s

While this brief review has looked mainly at structural condi­
tions in agriculture per se, little has been said about the causes
and effects of structural variation in agriculture. Such probable
causes and consequences are vast and it will not be attempted to




61

cover them here. As previously noted, a condensed review of the
causes and effects examined by the S-148 project are provided in
the Appendix.
Another primary source of information on agriculturally related
social conditions is a book produced by the Rural Sociological Socie­
ty on Rural Society in the U.S.: Issues for the 1980s.1 It is especially
suited to the concerns of this Committee. It contains several dozen
chapters on the state of knowledge in as many topics and is written
by researchers specializing in those areas.
One of these chapters is by William D. Heffernan, also a member
of the S-148 research team, who summarizes mu6li of what is
known and what needs to be learned about agricultural structure's
impacts on communities and rural areas. That chapter, along with
many others in this volume, their authors, and the editors are rec­
ommended as further resources to this Committee.
S o m e F u t u r e R e s e a r c h D ir e c t io n s

The work began in the S-148 project is to be advanced in a new
Cooperative Regional Project, S-198, on “Socioeconomic Dimen­
sions of Technological Change, Natural Resource Use, and Agricul­
tural Structure." At present, 23 sociologists and economists from 15
of the 1865 and 1890 Land Grant Universities in 12 southern and
midwestern States plus Puerto Rico are involved.
The objectives of this new project take up where S-148 left off:
1. To assess the relationships between farm structure and
uses of natural and other resources.
2. To examine the structure of farms and related agribusi­
ness industries and implications for regional agriculture.
3. To determine the relationship between selected emerging
technologies and the organization of agriculture.
4. To analyze perceptions of agriculture held by farmers and
nonfarmers.
1 See Dillman, Don A. and Daryl J. Hobbs, eds.
1980’s ,” Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1982.




‘Rural Society in the U.S.: Issues for the

62
APPENDIX:

REVIEW OF OBJECTIVES, FINDINGS, AND AREAS OF CONTINUING
INVESTIGATION FROM HATCH REGIONAL PROJECT S-148, "THE CHANGING
STRUCTURE OF AGRICULTURE: CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES, AND POLICY
IMPLICATIONS"

This Appendix on regional Project S-148 findings and areas of continuing
investigation is extracted from a successor Regional project proposal,
"Socioeconomic Dimensions of Technological Change, Natural Resource Use
and Agricultural Structure," by many of the researchers who participated
in S-148. The section of the proposal partially reproduced in this
Appendix was drafted primarily by professor C. Milton Coughenour of the
University of Kentucky.
I.

To identify and measure characteristics of farms and related
activities as organization units.

1. Farm entry. Eighty percent of U.S. farmers in the early 1960s
were sons of fanners. This percentage has remained stable during the
succeeding two decades (Lyson, 1984) and even higher rates prevail in the
South, e.g., Kentucky (Ooughenour et al., 1983) and Oklahoma (Sanford et
al.,1963). The particular contribution of farm background to farm entry
has been thought to be primarily in terms of occupational socialization
and access to farmland and other capital resources. S-148 studies have
helped clarify the nature of this contribution. Farm background is more
important for full-time than part-time farmers (Sanford et al., 1983).
The socialization experience, including technical skill and commitment to
fanning, makes a greater contribution than access to farmland resources
(Sanford et al., 1983; see also Lyscn, 1984; Molnar and Dunkelberger,
1981). Parental assistance may be important in other ways, parental
resources are reflected in size of farm of beginning farmers and in the
amount of the son's education. Both factors contribute to farm growth.
In the opinion of Alabama farmers (Molnar, 1982), financing, land and
management in that order are the principal problems of beginning farmers.
In this respect, farmers perhaps underestimate the value of the contribu­
tion of their own prior experience. Lyson (1982b) concludes that
background or prior socialization is a more important determinant of high
school aged youths' farm occupation than their own occupational plans at
that age.
Although greater insight has been gained into problems of beginning
fanners, many aspects of the access to resources and the process of
transfer remain to be worked out.
2. Operators characteristics and attitudes.
Sample
surveys
were conducted in Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina. Area sur­
veys were made in Florida, Oklahoma, Iowa,
Tennessee and Texas.
Selected types of producers were studied in Louisiana. Census re­
ports for 1969, 1974 and 1978 indicate a gradual decline in the
age of farm operators which reflects the disappearance of the
older cohort of farm operators who remained on small farms during
the fifties and
sixties. Sample
survey data from Kentucky in
1979 and 1982 suggest the trend to younger farm operators is continuing




63
(Coughenour et al., 1980; Coughenour et al., 1983). The trend 1s bolstered
by the retention of younger farmers made possible by off farm sources of
income. Younger cohorts of farmers also have increasing amounts of school­
ing.
Farmers, which were once considered to be homogeneous in their socio­
political outlook have become quite diverse (Coughenour and Christenson,
1983A; Russell et al., 1983; Molnar, 1982). The differences in policy
preferences relate to age and education as well as size of farm operated
and type of off farm occupation. The evidence suggests a significant self
interest orientation in policy outlook which is associated with socioeco­
nomic status.
3.
Farm organization. In much of the literature, farm organization
has been regarded primarily from production and managerial decision making
standpoints. S-148 researchers, among others, have contributed to further
investigation of these and other dimensions of farm organization. Studies
were carried out at several levels of analysis. Coughenour (1984) summa­
rized results of studies of farming as an occupation. Historically, the
status and role of the farmer has changed from that of an husbandman with
little separation of farm and household to an occupational role with sharp
distinction between farm and family norms and activities. This differen­
tiation 1s reflected too 1n values and farm goals.
Other studies point up the importance of considering differences In
types of farms based on operator's age and farm/off farm employment (Tweeten, Cilley and Popoola, 1980) and the labor role of husband and wife
(Coughenour and Swanson, 1983; Lyson, 1983; Molnar and Smith, 1983). The
former classification results In a threefold classification of farms:
aged/disabled , part time, and full time. The classification emphasizes
aspects of labor and management of the operator which are linked with life
cycle and off farm work. The second classification emphasizes ties with
the nonfarm economy of the adult family members« the labor, farm management
and family goals linked with off farm occupations. The household rather
than the farm Is the basic unit of analysis. Although both classifications
represent advances over earlier ones, both need further methodological
refinements and testing of their explanatory and predictive validities.
Research indicates that the proportion of all farms operated as full-time
family farms (not aged or disabled) 1s steadily declining at the same time
that such farms are tending to become larger businesses (Coughenour et al.,
1983; Tweeten, 1983).
Using Census of Agriculture data, Wlmberley (1983b) has used factoranalysis to identify structural dimensions of U.S. farms. The procedure
Identifies clusters of farm structure variables at the county level* Three
dimensions appear 1n 1974 and 1978: corporate/commercial farms, larger
family farms and smaller family farms. Southern agriculture 1s a mixture
of these types with corporate/commercial farms predominating 1n coastal
plains of the Carolinas. South Florida, Mississippi Delta, and the TexasLou1s1ana coastal areas. Larger family farms are 1n the same areas except
South Florida and most other areas of the South have smaller family farms*
Such descriptions have utility for targeting agricultural programs. Fur­
ther analysis of stability of the dimensions over time and relation of the
variables to resource use, family Income and other variables 1s needed.




64

Considerable attention has been given to part-time and small farms.
Based on research during the fifties and early sixties. It was assumed that
part-time farming was primarily a way out of farming and that off-farm
employment of farmers was principally by farm men. Studies by S-148 re­
searchers, however, have demonstrated that families In which farming 1s
only one of the economic activities are an Increasing proportion of all
families with farms. Commitment to farming is strong (Coughenour and
Uimberley, 1982; Coughenour et al., 1983; Lyson et al., 1983; Molnar and
Smith, 1983; Uimberley, 1983a). Not only are the patterns of farm/nonfarm
careers persistent, but also multiple employment is as often a way into as
out of farming. Also, young families with off-farm employment more often
seek to expand than to contract farming operations (Lyson et al., 1983;
Molnar and Smith, 1983). Due to the cross-sectional nature of these sur­
veys, the important relationships between farm goals and development has
not been studied carefully.
The off-farm employment of women 1s rising as 1s the employment of
women generally. However, the involvement of farm women In farming has
been more fully explored by others than by researchers in the S-148 proj­
ect. This is a glaring weakness.
Related to the work roles of farm men and women are their decision
making responsibilities. In the early 1970's much attention also was given
to the loss of decision making responsibility through vertical integration«
Jenkins and Heffeman have studied poultry producers In Louisiana and the
changes occurring during the past decade (manuscript not available). Other­
wise, S-148 researchers have largely neglected these important issues. For
the majority of Alabama (Molnar, 1982) and South Carolina (Lyson et al.,
1983) farmers, "being one's own boss”Is regarded as a highly Important
aspect of farming. Any reduction would diminish satisfaction.
The composition of the farm work force has changed substantially
during the last half century (Coughenour, 1984), In particular, unpaid
family labor has declined dramatically and has been replaced proportion­
ately (not numerically) by wage labor. Farm managers and farm foremen have
Increased both numerically and proportionately*
4.
Farm activities. Productive enterprises of farmers vary by type
of farm. Part-time farmers 1n particular tend to select less labor Inten­
sive enterprises which are appropriate to the particular area (Molnar,
1983; Kimberley, 1983A). Labor 1s a well recognized constraint for part
time farmers, but why farmers adopt different strategies 1n managing that
constraint has not been adequately explored. Lyson et al. (1983) report
that small-sized farms 1n South Carolina more often than larger ones spe­
cialize In livestock while larger operators more often specialize 1n crop
production.
The decision making factors and processes 1n the selection of farm
enterprises have been explored by Heffernan and Jenkins (Louisiana) (manuscript not available). Coughenour (Kentucky) has data on farm enterprise
combinations on Kentucky farms which has not been analyzed.
The utilization of recommended technology 1n agriculture has been a
problem of interest for many decades. Even so, there are a number of
unresolved issues including the relation between the extent of commitment




65
to a particular farm enterprise and the adoption of
adoption of certain types of resource saving— soil,
ogies. These issues have not been explored much by
Lyson et al. (1983) report variation In adoption of
size of farm and area. Coughenour and Ladewig have
Kentucky and Texas, respectively, on utilization of
nologies.

technology, and the
water, energy— *
techno1S-148 researchers.
various practices by
unanalyzed data for
soil and water tech­

5* Off-farm occupational relationships. By contrast with earlier
decades when most part-time fanners held blue collar jobs, the off-farm
occupations of farm men and women were through the occupational and indus­
try structure (Coughenour et al., 1980, 1983; Lyson et al., 1983; Molnar
and Smith, 1983). It seems clear that multiple income streams for families
minimizes income risk, increases income (compared with farming alone) and
investment and enhances personal well-being. Most part-time farmers regard
the off-farm job as less desirable than farming in most respects except
income (Coughenour, et al., 1983). A majority would rather farm, but
realities compel continued off-farm employment especially for farm men
(Molnar and Smith, 1983). Uimberley (1983A) has dealt 1n broad perspective
with part time farming as a social form of agriculture, but there is need
for much further work. For example, although most part time farms are
small, a significant proportion are large (Molnar and Smith, 1983;
Uimberley, 1983A). Information about the labor and management organization
of these farms is quite fragmentary.
II. Assess the impacts that external variations In society, economic
and institutional factors have on farms of various sizes and types
The Industrialization of agriculture has Increased the complexity of
the interchange with American society (Ladewig and Albrecht, 1983).
Research accomplishments and unresolved problems are sunvnarized under the
following: technology, national economic growth, off-farm occupation and
Income, market conditions and public programs and policies*
Technology. A majority of farmers 1n Alabama and South Carolina
regard the costs of fuel, new machinery, money, labor and land as hin­
drances to future survival and growth of their farms (Lyson et al., 1983;
Molnar, 1982) but consider that their ability to understand new technology
helps or aids future survival. Small sized and large sized farmers in
South Carolina as well as Alabama held similar attitudes with respect to
the negative effects of cost factors on future survival. Farmers 1n both
states, however, differed 1n their attitudes regarding the ability to
understand new technology with small sized operators least often being
confident of their ability 1n this respect. Analysis of the Alabama data
Indicates that this 1s related to education as well as possibly a lack of
commitment to farming. It 1s probable that it also relates to prior so­
cialization experience, but this has not been explored.




66

Economic analyses continue to show that small sized farms are less
efficient than larger ones in the use of resources and that most economies
of ;ize can be realized on units operated by one family with minimal Mred
labor (Tweeten, 1983), At this time an economic unit needs to have assets
of 1.0 to 1*5 million dollars and annual sales of £100,000 to $150,000.
The vast bulk of U.S. farms are smaller and most farms will likely continue
to be less than optimally efficient. Tweeten (1983) argues that such farms
will continue to disappear, many exist to provide utility rather than
profit (a position bolstered by attitudes of a sample of Kentucky farmers,
Coughenour et al., 1983), and tax advantages and public subsidies to rural
services. Although small sized farms may be economically Inefficient, they
may be socially efficient in the sense of families making rational choices
in the use of their resources to increase utility.
The relatively high proportion of small farmers who lack contact with
sources of technical information, including the Cooperative Extension Ser­
vice, has been often noted. Russell et al. (1983) indicate this applies
especially to the aged/disabled and/or small scale operators. For both
groups unrelated farmers and friends were the information sources most
often mentioned. However, the extension agent was the source that was next
most often contacted. The credibility and helpfulness of the extension
agent may be greater than might be assumed from the degree of utilization.
In South Carolina over three-fourths of the small farmers who are not
retired and two-thirds of the retired farmers consider the advice of the
extension agent helpful (Lyson et al., 1983). Low motivation to seek
professional advice 1s a constraint to the development of greater technical
competence.
2. National economic growth. In order for farm income to keep pace
with nonfarm income in an economy with rising Income levels, farms must get
larger. During the 1950's and 1960's, the annual rate of farm enlargement
to keep up with nonfarm Income growth was 1.3 percent and 3.0 percent,
respectively (Tweeten, 1983). The impact of technology Increases the
required rate of Increase 1n farm size while the availability of a nonfarm
Income supplement decreases the required rate. If the growth In the non­
farm economy slows during the 1980s, as expected, the annual rate of farm
enlargement might rise (Tweeten, 1983.) Further research 1s needed, of
course, to check these projections*
3. Off farm occupation and income. One effect of national economic
growth 1s the growth of off farm job opportunities for farm men and women.
By providing a stable or larger family income, investment and non-economic
rewards, many small farm units continue to operate (Molnar, 1983; Tweeten,
1983). An off farm job results 1n greater ownership of farm land (Sanford
et al., 1983), and the size of farm Is related to the type of occupation
(Coughenour and Swanson, 1983) with the income and managerial skills asso­
ciated with off farm occupations making the greatest contributions. For
women, the Income but not education associated with the occupation 1s
significantly related to farm size (Coughenour and Swanson, 1983). How the
effects of Income and skill are channeled through labor and decision making
roles Into the farming operations, however, has not been determined.
4.
Market conditions. The expansion of International trade In
certain farm commodities has provided both greater farm income and Insta­




67

bility of farm prices. A majority of Alabama and South Carolina farmers
believe, however, that greater foreign demand will help farmers (Lyson et
al., 1983; Molnar, 1982). Small-sized farmers in both states, however, are
less often corfident of this than larger farmers. In reviewing the evi­
dence of market price effects on farm size, Tweeten (1983) concludes that
sustained periods of favorable farm prices (relative to costs) encourage
farm enlargement while price Instability tends more often to favor both
large and small farmers compared with those 1n the middle of the size
range.
With respect to the effects of market concentration, most Kentucky
farmers perceive a lack of competition in the input markets and think that
larger producers get the best prices (Coughenour et al., 1983). Tweeten
(1983) concludes, after reviewing the research on market concentration and
farm size, that the influence is not well understood but probably weak.
The influence of market concentration on broiler producers is the only area
investigated systematically by S-148 researchers, but the results of this
research is not yet available. This is a high priority area for further
research.
5.
Public programs and policies. S-148 researchers explored farmers
perceptions and opinions regarding the role of government commodity pro­
grams. Most Kentucky farmers believe that commodity supports have encour­
aged farm enlargement and that larger operators get the largest guotas, but
most do not support limiting the size of production guotas or designing
commodity programs to favor small scale farmers (Coughenour et al., 1983).
Small producers more often supported programs favoring small producers than
did larger .producers. The effects of the many government policies and
programs have been much debated, but the net effect probably has been
almost neutral (Tweeten, 1983).
Alabama and Kentucky farmers recognize the advantages of governmental
tax policies and believe larger operators benefit most (Coughenour et al.,
1983; Molnar, 1982). The real effects are more complex. By contrast to
the conclusions of other analysts 1n earlier years, Tweeten (1983) con­
cludes that the net effect of all governmental taxes on the growth of farms
has been relatively minor compared with other factors although elimination
of investment credits, depreciation allowances, Interest payment write-offs
and a more progressive income tax rate structure would have a larger Impact
on farm structure.
In contrast to mainland farmers, Puerto Rican farmers did not think
farm development was being hindered by lack of credit (compare Oroz, 1984
and Molnar, 1982). Most farmers In both Alabama and South Carolina think
Interest rates are too high and hinder future development (Lyson et al.,
1983; Molnar, 1982). Tweeten (1983), however, concludes that the ready
availability of farm credit at low rates of Interest probably has speeded
the expansion of farms.
In general, farmers opinions regarding farm policies often reflect
their self interest as related to farm size. This raises important issues
regarding the spokesmen for farm Interests. The actual effects of policies
perhaps have been less than earlier claimed. But, continued analyses are
needed to measure the effects of policies and farmers policy perspectives.




68

III. Assess the impact of organizational characteristics on career
commitment and well being of individuals and families on farms#
Research on this objective has two aims: the impact of farm structure
on Individual and family well-being and the commitment of farmers to enter
or to continue 1n farming.
X. Quality of life. Prior to research conducted under S-148 infor­
mation on the quaTTty of farm life was derived entirely from objective
indices. These Indices Invariably showed substantial low income and levels
of living among small full time farmers» and, prior to recognition of the
contribution of off farm Income, part time farmers also were thought to
have low incomes and levels of living« While some accordingly thought the
outlook of persons on small farms was characterized by hopelessness, de­
spair and widespread dissatisfaction, critics of American commercial agri­
culture and the trend to large farms argued conversely that small scale
farming provided a high quality of life.
As already noted, research Indicated that the family Income position
of many on small farms was not as bad as had been feared due to off fana
sources of Income. Moreover, research data from Kentucky and Oklahoma
farmers have shown that the subjective quality of life (satisfaction) of
people living on farms 1s relatively high (Coughenour and Christenson»
1983A; Coughenour et al.» 1983; Rogers and Tweeten, 1983). Subjective
quality of life of farm families is higher than of persons living 1n cities
or 1 t rural nonfarm areas (Coughenour and Christenson, 1983A).
f
Levels of subjective satisfaction tend to Increase with stage In the
life cycle (Molnar, 1983) and to4e higher for white than minority opera­
tors (Rogers and Tweeten, 1983)« This suggests that the quality of life is
highest among those living on viable family sized commercial farms. This
conclusion Is consistent with farmers opinions regarding the desirability
of farm work and farm goals. At the same time, the conclusion does not
support the critics* argument that small farms are especially notable for
the higher quality of life provided (Tweeter*, 1983).
Rogers and Tweeten (1983) found that part time farmers 1n Oklahoma
rated their subjective quality of life higher than did either the
aged/retired or full time farmers. Coughenour and Christenson (1983A)
however, did not find significant differences between part time and full
time (less than age 65) farmers In subjective quality of life. Thus, the
generality of the effect of these structural factors on subjective quality
of life 1s 1n question.
The modeling of Individual and structural effects on the subjective
quality of life has neglected attitudes of farm women, falls to explain
much of the variance in the data anu has limited generality although the
results are generally consistent with data from some national surveys.




69
2* Commitment to farm. With respect to the subjective commitment to
farms, Molnar (19&2) and Molnar and Smith (1983) conclude that It 1s higher
among larger fanners and those farming full time. Family support is impor­
tant In strengthening commitment to farm (Molnar, 1983). Responses of
South Carolina farmers are consistent with the conclusion that subjective
commitment to fanning is higher for larger than smaller farm operators
(Lyson et al., 1983). The fact that the level of satisfaction (quality of
life) of smaller operators is somewhat lower than for larger ones Is con­
sistent with less commitment to farming by smaller farm operators.
The level of commitment is a relative matter. Droz (1984) indicates
that Puerto Rican farmers are committed to farming. Russell et al. (1983)
Indicate that part time farming is viewed as a relatively permanent status
by a majority of such farmers. Molnar and Smith (1983) point out that farm
families with both adults working off the farm are most likely to be
planning farm expansion which seems inconsistent with a weak commitment to
farming. Wimberley (1983a) also points out that the tendency to favor
farming over off farm work, and to continue part time farming over many
years reflects substantial commitment to farming although perhaps less than
for full time fanners. It is evident that further analysis of data is
needed to reach more definite conclusions regarding the effects of farm
structure on subjective commitment to farm and on behavior.

IV. Assess the development of farm sizes and types as related to
population change, patterns of man-1and relationships and community
structure.
During the 1970s much concern was expressed about the adverse conse­
quences of the changing structure of agriculture, notably the expansion of
farm size, for the viability of rural communities. The effects of changing
agricultural structures on communities might be manifested In weaker
attachment to the community, less involvement 1n local community affairs
and the declining purchase of goods and services as found by Goldschmidt.
The concerns about community impacts of the changing structure of
agriculture gained urgency due to national trends showing declines 1n farms
and farm population. Increased farm size, tenancy and absentee ownership,
corporate farms and the like. But, as Zachetmayr et al. (1983) point out
such trends do not apply equally to all areas and consequently the impacts,
if any, may vary on a regional basis.
Corcrcunity attachment. Other research raises serious questions
about the extent and nature of impacts, at least on mid-western conwunitles, resulting from changes in the structure of agriculture. While Haas
and Korsching (1983) confirm that community attachment 1s highly important
in the purchase location of goods and services, community attachment 1s not
related to farm size 1n acres or off farm employment and only weakly
related to volume of farm sales. These results were consistent with ear­
lier Missouri research (Heffernan et al., 1981) which indicated that there
was little or no important difference (when length of residence was con­
trolled) 1n the community attachment, support of community goals, reasons
for rural living or purchase location of goods and services.




70

2. Purchase location of goods and services. In the most extensive
analysis of the effects of Tarm size and tenancy of purchase location of
farm Inputs and consumer goods, Korschlng (1984A) found only a positive
relationship between the tenancy rate In an area and the size and distance
of trade centers where farm Inputs were purchased. Consequently, Korschlng
concludes that the Goldschmidt thesis probably does not apply to the mid­
west. Unfortunately, the Tennessee and Florida data which bear on these
issues have not been analyzed.
Hissing from the results of the research reported is an examination of
the consequences of structural change in agriculture on retailers' location
decisions and viability. Where farmers go for goods and services may be
less important to community viability than retailers decisions on where
there are sufficient customers and demand for their services. It may be
that farm customers differ little in the type of service desired, but
communities may change due to differences among communities in providing
desired goods and services.
3. Social strata. Older research, while noting homogeneity of
social status of farm lamillies in the mid-west, emphasized the existence
of differences in prestige or social standing and wealth. In the South
large and small farmers, black and white, were separated by substantial
differences 1n social status, power and prestige. The changing structure
of agriculture has further separated small and large full time farmers In
wealth and Income. The growing relative numbers of part time farmers
represented an anomaly. What social status did they have? Coughenour and
Christenson (1983B) argue that the principal determinant is the natureblue collar/white collar— of off/arm employment. Differences in income,
education, social values and policy outlook support this hypothesis. This
means that one Impact of a changing agriculture structure 1s the develop­
ment of a social class structure of farmers that parallels American society
generally. However, there 1s much controversy about the nature of social
class and other research 1s needed to explore and clarify this Issue.
As agriculture has become more commercialized, it has taken on more of
the characteristics of nonfarm industries. Including greater differentiation and complexity of work roles. One of the issues this raises 1s
whether the various agriculturally related occupations are arranged hierarchlally, like the rungs of a ladder, or are arranged 1n parallel ladders.
Lyson (1982a) argues that there are three ladders (sltuses categories) of
agriculturally related occupations due to different organizational contexts
of the technical division of labor— production agriculture, agribusiness
and agriculture education/research. Each of these situs categories of
occupations has a distinctive social makeup with respect to factors that
affect earnings and prestige. Race and sex, for example, are much more
important determinants of earnings of production agriculture than of agri­
culture education/research workers. This provides a beginning, as Lyson
notes, for further examination of the composition and change of the agri­
cultural labor force and labor market behavior.




71

REFERENCES FOR CRITICAL REVIEW:
Coughenour, C. Hilton
1981 Farm Structure, Social Class, and Fanner's Policy
Perspectives. Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station,
Rural Sociology Publication No. 67 (Oct.).
1984

"Farmers and farm workers: perspectives on occupational
complexity and change." Chapter in Harry K.
Schwarzweller (ed.), Research in Rural Sociology and
Development, Volume I. Copyright by JAI Press.

Coughenour, C. Hilton and James A. Christenson
1983a "Is the small farm beautiful? A study of agricultural
structure and quality of life.“ Paper prepared for
presentation at the 5th World Congress of Rural Sociology,
Mexico City, Mexico.
1983b "Farm structure, social class, and farmers' policy
perspectivesChapter 1n David Brewster, Wayne D.
Rasmussen, and Garth Youngberg (eds.), Farms in Transition.
Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
Coughenour, C. M., J. A. Christenson, and A. Stockham
1980 "Kentucky farm families." Community Development Issues.
Lexington, KY: Department of Sociology, University of
Kentucky, Volume 2, No. 5.
Coughenour, C. Hilton and Louis Swanson
1983 "Work statuses and occupations of men and women In fans
families and the structure of farms." Rural Sociology
48(Spring):23*43.
Coughenour, C. Hilton, Louis Swanson, and1
Ann Stockham
1983 "Kentucky farmers, 1982." Community Issues Volume 5, No. 2«
Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, Department of
Sociology.
Coughenour, C. Hilton and Ronald C. Wimberley
1982 "Small and part-time farmers." Pp. 347-356 1n Don A.
01 liman and Daryl J. Hobbs (eds.). Rural Sociology 1n the
U.S.: Issues for the 1980s. Boulder, CO: Westvlew.
Droz, Edna
1984 Summary report of principal findings by objectives.
Personal communication.
Hass, Jannette and Peter F. Korschlng
1983 "Community attachment and purchase location of goods and
services." Paper presented at the meeting of the Hidwest
Sociological Society, April 7-9, Kansas City, Missouri.




72
Heffernan, William 0., Gary Green, R. Paul Lasley, and Michael F.
Nolan
1981
"Part-time fanning and the rural community." Rural
Sociology 46(Summer):245-262«
Korsching, Peter F.
1984a "Farm structural characteristics and proximity of purchase
location of goods and services." In Harry K. Schwarzweller
(ed.) Research in Rural Sociology and Development. Volume
I. Copyright by JAI Press.
1984b

"Farm structural characteristics, institutional support, and
the use of soil and water conservation technologies." Paper
presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Association
of Agricultural Scientists, Nashville, Tennessee.

Korsching, Peter F. and Peter J. Nowak
1983
“
Soil erosion awareness and use of conservation tillage for
water quality control." Water Resources Bulletin
19(June):459-462.

Ladewig, Howard and Don Albrecht
1983 The Industrialization of Agriculture in Texas and the Nation:
Implications for the Family Farm, Community, and Land Grant
University System. College Station, TX: Texas Agricultural
Experiment Station, Department of Rural Sociology, Technical
Report No. 83-2.
Lyson, Thomas
1982a "Notes on a sectoral model of the agricultural labor
market." Rural Sociology 47(Summer):317-332.
1982b

"Stability and change in farming plans: results from a
longitudinal study of young adults." Rural Sociology
47(Fall):544-556.

1983

"The effect of farm family work roles on the organization
and operation of family farms." Paper presented at the
meetings of the Rural Sociological Society, Lexington,
Kentucky, August 17-20.

1984

"Pathways into production agriculture: the structuring of
farm recruitment in the United States." Chapter In
Harry K. Schwarzweller (ed.), Research 1n Rural Sociology.
Volume I. Copyright by JAI Press.

Lyson, Thomas A., Thomas A. Burch, and Penny W. Stover
1983
Issues and Trends Related to Farm Size 1n South Carolina.
Clemson, SC: Clemson University, Agricultural Experiment
Station, Bulletin 645.




73

Molnar, Joseph J.
1982 Alabama Farm Operator Perspectives on a Changing Structure
of Agriculture. Auburn: Auburn University, Alabama
Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 535.
1983

"Farm structure, quality of life, and commitment to
farming." Paper presented to meetings of the Rural
Sociological Society, August 17-20, Lexington, Kentucky.

Molnar, Joseph J. and John E. Ounkelberger
1981
"The expectation to farm: an Interaction of background and
experience," Rural Sociology 46(Spr1ng):42-48.
Molnar, Joseph J. and Steven L. Smith
1983
Part-time Farming 1n Alabama: Characteristics and Conse­
quences. Auburn: Auburn University, Alabama Agricultural
Experiment Station, Circular 268.
Nowak, Peter J., Peter J. Korschlng, Oonald J. Wagener and Thomas J.
Hoban
1984 Sociological Factors In the Adoption of Agricultural Best
Management Practices. Springfield, YA: National Technical
Information Service.
Rogers, Cheryl Elaine and Luther Tweeten
1983
"Measuring the perceived quality of life of East Central
Oklahoma farmers." Unpublished paper, Oklahoma State
University, Department of Agricultural Economics and
Langston University, 1890 Office of Research*
Russell, Irving, Luther Tweeten, and Cheryl Rogers
1983
"Economic characteristics, needs, and opportunities for
minority farms, small farms, and other farms in East Central
Oklahoma." Unpublished paper, Oklahoma State University,
Department of Agricultural Economics and Langston
University, 1890 Office of Research.
Sanford, Scott, Luther Tweeten, Cheryl Rogers and Irving Russell
1983
"Origins, current situation and future plans of farmers 1n
East Central Oklahoma." Unpublished paper of Department of
Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University and
Langston State University, Office of 1890 Research.
Tweeten, Luther
1983
"Causes and consequences of structural change 1n the farming
industry." Paper prepared for the National Planning
Association.
Tweeten, Luther G., 6. Bradley Cilley, and Isaac Popoola
1980
"Typology and policy for small farms.” Southern Journal of
Agricultural Economics 12(2):77-85.




74

Wimberley, Ronald C.
1983a "The emergence of part-time farming as a social form of
agriculture.“ Pp. 325-356 in Research in Sociology of Work:
Peripheral Workers. Volume 2. Copyright by JAI Press.
1983b

“
Structural profiles of American agriculture." Paper
presented at meetings of the Rural Sociological Society,
August 17-20, Lexington, Kentucky.

Zachetmayr, Movika, Quentin Jenkins, and Michael McGettigan
1983 Changing Structure of Agriculture 1n Louisiana Social Areas
1940-1978. Baton Rouge: LA: Louisiana State University,
Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 743.




75

THE EMERGENCE OF PART-TIME
FARMING AS A SOCIAL FORM
OF AGRICULTURE
Ronald C. Wimberley

I. INTRODUCTION
Farms—there were over 2.7 million of them in the United States as of 1978.1 If
the nostalgic American gothic image is that these are family farms which are
worked from dawn to twilight by the operator, spouse, and offspring, this picture
is inaccurate for many reasons. One is that many farms are not full-time businesses.
In 1978, 1.3 million or 49% percent of all farms were operated by persons
whose principal occupation was, in fact, not farming but something else. Fur­
thermore, 57% of all farmoperators worked off their farms to some extent during
the year; 46% worked elsewhere at least 100 days.
In other words, practically one-half of the nation’s farmers are actually doing
something else much or even most of the time. And regardless of whether they
call themselves farmers, over one-half work at jobs besides farming. In short, it

Research in Sociology of Work: Peripheral Workers, Vol. 2, pages 325-356.
Copyright © 1983 by JAI Press Inc.
j r
.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
lljlb e r le y
isbn: 0-89232-257-s
D e p t*
o f S o c io lo g y
and

Ida H. Simpson and
Richard L. Simpson, eds.




A n th rop oL ogy

3 5 North Carolina State UniVi
2
Raleigh, North Carolina
27695-8107
Phone (919) 737-3180

76
is part-time rather than full-time farming which is becoming the prevalent form
of farm operation in this country.
This study will offer some descriptive information on part-time farming along
with information on who these farmers are, where they are, what they do, some
contemporary trends in part-time farming, and some issues involved. In addition,
part-time farming will be viewed from the wider context of structural changes in
American agriculture. Information and analyses on these topics are limited. There­
fore, many of the data reported here are drawn from the censuses of agriculture.
The focus of this review is to summarize recent findings which call attention to
part-time farming and some of its implications for further phases of research and
theoretical explanation.
Outside of the limited amount of agricultural research on part-time farming,
there has been relatively little empirical or theoretical work on the sociology of
agricultural occupations or agriculture in general. For the few dozen sociologists
of agriculture, the subdiscipline is typically a part-time career in itself. Such
sociological neglect of agriculture seems ironic since the existence of social
order, major cultural components, and so much social interaction and organiza­
tion pertain to the production, distribution, and consumption of food and fiber.

II.

OVERLAPPING TYPES OF FARMS: FAMILY,
SMALL, AND PART-TIME

Part-time farming is one of many types that are not mutually exclusive. It must
be considered in conjunction with several other kinds of farming.

A.

Family Farms

Among these is the so-called family farm. Although difficult to define, the
notion of family farming is deeply ingrained in American history and has politi­
cal appeal. This is seen in recent congressional statements including S tu ofth
ta s
e
F m F rm(U.S. Senate, 1979), S tu of th F m F : SecondA n a
a ily a
ta s
e a ily arm
nul
R
eport to th C
e ongress (Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service, 1979),
and S tu of th F ily Farm T irdA n a R
ta s
e am
: h n u l eport to th C
e ongress (Econom­
ics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service, forthcoming). Nevertheless, the ambi­
guity of what is or is not a family farm hinders use of the concept in research.
In one study, Nikolitch (1972:1-2) examined the family farm, like any other
family business, as “a primarily agricultural business in which the operator is a
risk-taking manager, who with his family does most of the managerial activi­
ties.” This definition was operationalized to be those farms using “less than 1.5
years of hired labor because it is assumed that the American family farm supplies
1.5 man-years of labor.” While 1.5 work-year equivalents is somewhat arbitrary,
such a measure is workable for analytic purposes.
Some family farms are part-time, others are full-time. During the 1960s, part­




77

time family farms were thought to be on the increase. Nikolitch (1972:26-27)
took small farms having annual sales of less than $5,000 to be “mainly family
operations” and measured part-time status in terms of off-farm income. He found
that off-farm incomes rose from 69% of the total in 1960 to 84% in 1969
according to adjusted census data. Therefore, part-time farming would seem to
account for a large share of the small-family farm activity.
This type of analysis illustrates the problem of overlap in organizational forms
of farming. While family farms, small farms, and part-time farms may be distin­
guished conceptually, they are empirically interrelated.

B.

Small Farms

Arbitrariness in measurement also characterizes research on small farms. Usu­
ally a gross annual sales level is the size criterion. For example, small farms
commonly are judged to be those with annual sales less than $20,000-$40,000.
Agricultural census reports distinguish whether farms sell more or less than
$2,500 worth of goods annually. In the preceding example, Nikolitch used a
$5,000 limit.
Acreage provides another means of slicing small from larger farm groupings.
Fifty acres or less is often one limit, but there is nothing inherently meaningful
about any particular acreage designation. A 50-acre wheat farm may be relatively
small whereas the same size for a poultry farm would be quite large.
Gross sales are similarly deceptive. A farm earning as much as 10 percent
profit on sales of $20,000 clears only $2,000. Such is the nature of most smallfarm classifications.
A more recent approach to defining small farms was offered by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA): “All farm families (a) whose family income
from all sources (farm and nonfarm) is below the median nonmetropolitan income
of the state, (b) who depend on farming for a significant though not necessarily a
majority of their income, and (c) whose family members provide most of the labor
and management” (USDA, 1979:39; Carlin and Crecink, 1979:933).
It is apparent that this definition would not include all small farms, for it
selects those families having incomes in the lower half of the nonmetro families
in a state. It includes neither all part-time farms nor all family farms. Like many
other definitions, however, it does incorporate small farms with family and
part-time farms.

C.

Part-Time and M ultiple-Career Farms

Perhaps one reason that part-time farming is so vaguely conceptualized is that
it is so seldom studied apart from agricultural census data. Therefore, census defini­
tions tend to be the most typically used. In the 1974 Census of Agriculture and
again in 1978, three types of census items were directed toward part-time fanning.




78
The primary indicator in the short and long census forms was “At what
occupation did the operator spend the majority (50 percent or more) of his work
time in [year]?” Responses were “fanning” and “other.” Operationalized in this
manner, “ part-time” farms are those operated by persons having a principal
occupation other than farming. Those farms operated by persons principally,
although not necessarily exclusively, employed as farmers are declared to be
“primary farms” (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1977a:A-10). Second, and in
the short census form, it was asked what “number of days operator worked off
this place in 1974.” Responses were “ none, 1-49 days, 50-99 days, 100-149
days, 150-199 days, and 200 days or more.” The long form inquired, “How
many days did each member of the family work OFF the place in 1974?” and
used the above response list for the operator or senior partner, spouse, and two
other persons (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1977a:C-20). In the 1978 census
the question was specified to ask, How many days did the operator (senior
partner or person in charge) work at least 4 hours per day OFF this' place in
1978?” The final item was whether off-farm income for the operator and family
was greater than that from the year’ s farm sales.
The census does not distinguish between sea a part-time farming, as might
son l
be performed by those growing crops, and that which takes a daily share of one’s
work activities, as for farmers who tend livestock. This distinction may be
crucial for the type of nonfarm employment a part-timer can take.
The issue of family, or at least household, farming enters the definition of
part-time farming in another important way. This is in the case where one
spouse, or adult household member, operates the farm on a full-time basis and
the other may work as much as full-time off the farm. From the perspective of the
household, this too is part-time farming; from the perspective of the individual,
full-time farm operator, it is not. For such a mix of on- and off-farm labor in the
household, this type of part-time farming might be regarded as dual- or multiplecareer farming (Coughenour and Wimberley, 1982). Few data exist on multiplecareer farming.
Some of the definitional issues on the interrelationships of family, small, and
part-time farms will be reflected in the following review of descriptive statistics
on part-time farming.

in. A STATISTICAL DESCRIPTION OF PART-TIME
FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES

As noted earlier, farmers are now about evenly divided into groups of those who
are principally farmers and those who spend at least half their work time as
something else. This national pattern of principal occupations among farm opera­
tors holds fairly well across all regions of the United States except in the South
(see Table 1) where over half are engaged primarily in off-farm occupations and
where these “farmers” are most likely to have any or as many as 100 days of







Table 1.

Principal Occupations and Days Worked Off Farms for U.S. Farm Operators in 1978 by Regions8
United States
(adjustedfor
undercountsf

United States
(unadjusted)

North Central
(unadjusted)

Southern
(unadjusted)

Western
(unadjusted)

Northeastern
(unadjusted)

2,700,554

2,479,866
(100.0)

1,027,319
(41.4)

1,016,070
(41.0)

287,092
(116)

149,385
(6.0)

Principal occupation
of operator as per­
cent o f United States
or regional N
Fanning
Other occupations

51
49

54
47

63
37

44
56

52
48

53
47

Days of off-farm
work by operator
during year
Any days
^ 100 days

57
46

55
44

50
38

60
50

57
47

55
45

Total N of farms
(row percentages)

Notes: 'North Central * 111., Ind., Iowa, Kan., Mich., Minn., Mo., Neb., N.D., Ohio, S.D., Wise.
South * Ala., Ark., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ky., La., Md., Miss., N.C., Okla., S.C., Tenn.rTex., Va.f W.Va.
West - Ak., Ariz., Calif., Col., Hi., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N. Mex., Ore., Utah, Wash., Wy.
Northeast * Conn., Me., Mass., N.H., N.J., N.Y., Penn., R.I.. Vt.
*This column of the U.S. totals is adjusted for undercounts reported in the 1978 preliminary census data as reported in other regional and national totals
and as shown in the remaining columns of this table. The adjusted U.S. total includes the unadjusted U.S. total collected by mail plus supplementary data
from personal canvasing of an area segments sample.
Source: U. S. Dept, of Commerce. 1978 Census of Agriculture: Preliminary Report

80
off-farm work. By contrast, nearly two-thirds of the farm operators in the North
Central region are principally farmers and barely one-half worked away from
their farms at all during 1978.
One reason for these interregional variations is that small farms are propor­
tionately most likely to be found in the South and least in the Midwest. And it is
the small farms that are most often part-time. For the nation in 1978, for exam­
ple, 78% of the operators having farm sales of less than $2,500 were principally
in other occupations as compared to only 37% of those with farm sales of higher
amounts (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1980a, calculations from adjusted
totals).

A.

Trends

1. P cip l O p tion
rin a ccu a s
Farm operators devoting at least half-time to other jobs have increased from
approximately 37% in 1974 to the 1978 adjusted and unadjusted agricultural
census estimates which run 10%-12% higher. Even with an undercount bias
against smaller farms in 1974, this measure reveals a substantial increase in
part-time farming in this recent and relatively short period.

2.

O a W d ys
ff-F rm ork a

For agricultural census questions on days of off-farm work by the operator,
increases in part-time fanning can be traced further back. Table 2 shows trends
from 1929, when the question was first asked, through 1978. The percentage
working any days off the farm was fairly stable until 1949 when, perhaps, many
operators returning from World War II discovered that supplementary off-farm
jobs were needed. Since 1949, the rise in the percentage of farm operators doing
off-farm work has continued. It passed the 50% mark in 1969 and reached 57%
in 1978.
The percentage working away from away from their farms as much as 200
days per year— the full-time equivalent of as much as 40 or more 40-hour
weeks— has risen throughout the period to around one-third of all operators. One
hundred or more off-farm workdays has shown a similar increase, to nearly 50%
of farmers by 1978.
In general, there has been a long-term and fairly steady trend for the nation’ s
farmers to become part-time in character. This is an historic change in the social
organization of farming. Along with the short-term trend toward principal occu­
pations other than fanning, these findings suggest that part-time fanning is not
only well established but is a continually emerging form of farm operation.







Table 2.
Days of
off-farm work

Off-farm Work by U.S. Farm Operators, 1929-1978

1978°

1974b

1969

1964

1959

1954

1949

1944

1939

1934

1929

None or
not reporting

43

56

46

54

55

55

61

73

71

70

70

» 1 day
^ 100 days
^ 200 days

57
46
NAC

44
35
29

54
40
32

46
32
26

45
30
24

45
28
22

39
24
18

27
18
14

29
16
9

31
11
6

30
12
6

Notes: "Calculation on adjusted base of 2,700,554 farms.
*ln 1974 there was an undercount of small farms which would tend to be part-time and therefore cause the percentages working off-farm to be lower than the true
values. The unadjusted base is 2,279,270.
'Not available.
Source: U. S. Dept, of Commerce, 1964 Census o f Agriculture, Vol. II, Chap. 5:518; 1974 Census of Agriculture, Vol. II, Pt. 3:43: 1978 Census of Agriculture:
Preliminary Report, U. S..

82
B.

Comparisons of Part-Time and Other Farms

As the preceding tables indicate, most descriptive material on part-time farr
ing in the United States comes from the census of agriculture which was taken
five-year intervals until those of 1974 and 1978. Currently, only the preliminaj
summary data are available for the 1978 census. The only 1978 cross-classificatioi
which involve principal occupations and days of off-farm work are for fam
selling less or more than $2,500 per year. However, the final reports of the 197
census do provide more detailed information.
Agricultural census data, and especially those of 1974, are not without dra\*
backs. In the first place, the definition of a farm that was initiated in 197
excludes any having less than $1,000 in annual sales. The definition used fror
1959 to 1969 includes places of 10 acres or more which sold at least $50 a year o
produce or farms selling at least S250 worth regardless of size. The result of th
definition change is that the 1974 and 1978 censuses omit places that might b
considered farms but which sell less than the $1,000 threshold used by th
«
Department of Commerce, which conducts the census. Granted, the total amoun
of farm product sales from such small farms is trivial. Yet, there may be som<
commercially undeveloped food and fiber potential for these very small farms
and, perhaps more importantly, they produce quantities of food and fiber that art
consumed rather than sold. These operations are farming activities, part of thi
nation's agriculture, and of possible significance for domestic needs. Farm pro­
duction indexes show that home consumption of crops as well as animal products
has reversed a decline measured since 1940 and has been increasing since the
early 1970s (Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service, 1979:50).
Omissions of farms due to the change in farm definition are evident in census
tables showing that over 152,000 farms in 1974 and at least 470,000 farms in
1978 would have been added had the previous definition been used (U.S. De­
partment of Commerce, November 1980:4,8).
A second drawback is that in 1974 census there was an unusual extent of
undercounting. This was associated with the first use of mail questionnaires.
Recent estimates (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1980c) put the undercount at
10.7% overall, 4.7% for farms selling at least $2,500, and 25.9% for the smaller
farms of $1,000-$2,500 in sales.
Third, the census does not obtain as many social data on farm operators or
their households from farms expected to sell less than $2,500 as from farms with
higher expected sales. Omitted from the short form on smaller farms, for exam­
ple, is the information on off-farm income by other family members.
For the purposes at hand, the omission of so many small farms works against
an accurate portrayal of part-time farms as well. This bias makes 1974 census
reports a conservative estimate of part-time farming and underrepresents parttime farming in comparison to principal farming operations.
There is a fourth limitation to the use of agricultural census comparison of




83
part-time versus other farms. However, this disadvantage serves to counter the
$1,000 sales requirement of the farm definition and is not so affected by the
undercount in 1974. Still it is a disadvantage for an accurate and total descrip­
tion. It is this: published cross-classifications obscure part-time farming compar­
isons across all farms and are directly reported only for those farms of $2,500 or
more in sales. As noted here, these data offer a conservative picture of the extent
of part-time farming since so many small part-time farms do not have this level
of sales. On the other hand, the data on farms of $2,500 or more in sales offer the
best cross-classifications readily available.
Table 3 contrasts farm operators who are principally employed as farmers
(primary farmers) with those who spend over half of their annual work time in
other occupations (part-time farmers). Although the primary farm operators may
be considered as full-time, it should be recalled that many of them have off-farm
workdays as well.
1.

Age a dR ce
n a

It is observed that part-time farmers are somewhat younger than primary farm­
ers. There are essentially no racial differences between part-time and primary
farmers; both are overwhelmingly white.
2.

O rmIn e
ff-fa
com

Fifty-eight percent of the part-time operators have nonfarm incomes surpass­
ing their farm earnings. Part-time farm families have relatively higher mean
nonfarm incomes by a difference of over $8,000 although the mean number of
off-farm workers per farm is the same on primary and part-time farms. However,
members of part-time farm operator families are more likely to have worked off
the farm at all and for as many as 100 or more days.
3.

S a of F rm g
c le a in

The average size of part-time farms is 297 acres, but this is still 150 acres
lower than that of primary farms. Concomitantly, small farms of less than 50
acres are proportionately over twice as numerous among part-time farmers.
Whereas the average real estate value of part-time farms is nearly one-half that of
primary farms, part-time farm sales average only one-third as much as primary
farm sales.

4. C m ities P u
om od
rod ced
Part-time farmers are relatively more involved with beef cattle and horses.
Primary farms tend to be more concerned with dairy cattle, swine, and egg
production. The only crops with which part-time farms have proportionately
greater involvement are orchards and tobacco. Primary farms tend to dominate
production of com, soybeans, wheat, cotton, hay, and vegetables.

40-762 0 - 8 5 - 6




84
T b 3.
a le

A Comparison of Full- and Part-Time Farms with
Sales of $2,500 or More in 1974
Principal Occupation o f Operator
Farming

Other

(Primary farms) (Part-time farms)

Total farms with 2s 52,500 sales
N
(row percentage)
Mean age
Percent white
Mean family off-farm income
Family members other than
operator working off-farm
Off-farm workers per farm
Percent farms with off-farm
workdays
Percent farms with » 100
off-farm workdays
Mean farm acreage
Percent of farms of < 50 acres
Value of sales per farm
Commodities produced:
Percent farms with livestock
Cattle and calves
Beef cows
Milk cows
Hogs and pigs
Sheep and lambs
Horses and ponies
Laying hens
Broilers
Percent farms with crops
Field com
Soybeans
Wheal
Cotton
Tobacco
Irish potatoes
Hay
Vegetables
Orchards
Percent farms with contract labor
Percent farms with hired labor

Total

1,235,852
(74)
52.4
98
$5,876

426,690
(26)
48.3
98
$14,229

1,662.542
(100)
51.4
98
$9,136

1.2

1.2

1.2

14

24

16

U
547
10
$47,786

23
297
24
$15,684

14
483
13
$39,547

65
42
23
24
5
12
12
2

61
47
10
18
5
19
10
2

64
43
20
23
5
14
12
2

56
33
33
5
9
2
56
4
3
43
6

37
24
21
3
10
2
46
3
6
34
6

51
31
30
5
9
2
54
3
4
40
6

Source: U. S. Dept of Commerce, 1974 Census cf Agriculture, Vol. I, Fart SI, Table 29. Some means and
percentages reported here w derived from the base data in the census.
ere




85
5.

C tra a dH L b r
on ct n ired a o

While over one-third of the part-time farms use contract labor, they are
somewhat less likely to do so than are primary farms. Contract labor is needed
for such jobs as pesticide and fertilizer applications. The use of hired labor is
essentially the same for both types of farms.

IV

FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS AND SOCIAL
CONDITIONS PERTAINING TO
PART-TIME FARMERS

While such data as the above are available from the agricultural census on
part-time farm operations; further information on part-time farming as an occu­
pation is found in several research reports and through Department of Agriculture
statistics. Prior to the 1970s there were some analyses by sociologists and econ­
omists. The primary focus was upon part-time fanning as an exit from or entry
into full-time farming. These studies and typologies are treated in a useful review
by Bertrand (1967). In the last few years, however, there seems to be a resur­
gence of research and interest in part-time and multiple-career farmers and their
households. Current topics include off-farm occupations and social status, amounts
and sources of off-farm income, rural industrialization and reverse migration,
quality-of-life and community relationships, household features, and the previ­
ous concern for part-time fanning as an entry, exit, or stable career pattern for
farm operators.

A.

Off-Farm O ccupations and Status

What is the nature of the other careers of part-time farmers and multiple-career
farm households? Needs for this information have been stressed in recent state­
ments on part-time farming (Carlin and Ghelfi, 1979:273; Coughenour and
Wimberley, 1981).
In a 1979 survey of registered voters in Kentucky, Coughenour, et al. (1980)
selected about 1,100 farmers from a larger sample of respondents and looked at
their off-farm employment. These farmers were classified into part-time (44%),
dual-career (14%), and full-time (42%) types. Since the researchers used the
$1,000 sales threshold, the farmer subsample could be compared to the 1978
Census of Agriculture findings. On similar indicators, a good fit was found
between the state sample and the 1978 census results. As was the case nationally,
part-time farmers dominated the state’s agriculture.
Off-farm occupations for part-time farmers and for the spouses of operators on
multiple-career farms were found to range widely and were similar to the distri­
bution of nonfarm occupations in Kentucky’ s total labor force. In general, the
nonfarm jobs of part-time male farmers were 38% white-collar and 62% blue-




86
collar. The respective percentages for the state as a whole were 43% and 57%.
For female spouses o f multiple-career farm families, 63% were white-collar
versus 36% blue-collar, in line with the 68%-32% breakdown for the entire state
(Table 4). Therefore, male part-time farmers and spouses on multiple-career
farms are slightly less likely to be in white-collar occupations and correspond­
ingly more likely to have blue-collar positions than the general population o f this
state.
Elsewhere, Coughenour (1980a) reports that part-time farmers in this Ken­
tucky sample were also more likely than other workers to be in the transportation
and communications industries (15%. versus 9%) and finance/insurance/real es­
tate businesses (5% versus 3%), but less likely to engage in mining (4% versus
6% ) and the manufacture o f durables (14% versus 11%). Furthermore, part-time
farmers in blue-collar nonfarm careers tended to farm less than 100 acres in
contrast to white-collar operators who were inclined to operate larger acreages.«
Off-farm jobs in durable goods manufacturing were associated with part-time
farms o f less than 50 acres. Part-time farms o f 180 acres and larger were most
strongly associated with business and professional services and with wholesale
and retail trade.
Certainly the sample o f Kentucky farmers or those o f any other single state
cannot be considered to fairly represent the nation. On the other hand, these

Table 4.

Off-Farm Occupations o f Part-Time and
Multiple-Career Farm Families in Kentucky, 1979
Percent
male part-time

Off-farm occupations

Professionals
Managers and proprietors

Percent
working wives in
multiple-career

Percent
multiple-career

families

husbands on farm

farmers

10
19

19
7
63 Percent

38 Percent
4
5

31
6

Craftspersons
Operatives

13
23

I
8

Service workers
Laborers

6
20

Farm

(all)

Clerical
Sales

62 Percent

100 percent
Sourer. Coughenour, Stockham, and Christenson. 1980:3.




36 Percent
11
16
(None)
100 percent

93

87
results cannot be considered entirely atypical. They at least suggest, first, that
there is a wide range o f complementary off-farm career types for farm commodi­
ties produced in the state and, second, that the distribution o f these occupational
categories is quite similar for multiple-career or part-time farm families and the
general population. In addition, the Kentucky research found that off-farm work
does enhance family economic well-being.
B.

Off-Farm Incom e

For a farmer or spouse to be employed o ff the farm is one thing. The amount—
large or small— o f off-farm income is another matter. Furthermore, farming
might be part-time in the sense that it is not the sole source o f income whether or
not it is the sole source o f employment.

1. A ounts
m
The median 1979 family incomes for the Kentucky farmers were highest for
part-time operators ($19,162), although these farms were smallest in terms o f
sales. Second-ranked were multiple-career family incomes ($15,771), although
they had the highest farm sales. The lowest family incomes were for full-time
farmers ($10,338) (Coughenour et al., 1980).
In the aggregate, off-farm income in the United States is observed to play a
major, if not principal, role in the total family incomes o f farm operators (Table
5). While gross family incomes have quite steadily increased from $39 billion to
$126 billion in 1978, net farm income has also increased from $12 billion in
1969 to $34 billion in 1978 but at an erratic rate (Economics, Statistics, and
Cooperatives Service, 1979:31). This means that the total income o f farm opera­
tions has also gone up and down, but mostly up from $20 billion in 1960 to $62
billion in 1978. However, variations in these trends are not due to advances and
declines in the off-farm incomes. Indeed, off-farm income rose steadily through­
out this period, from $8 billion in 1960 to $34 billion in 1978. Whereas the ratio
o f 1978 to 1960 was 3.2:1 for gross farm income, 2.4:1 for net income, and 3.1:1
for total farm income, these differences were exceeded by a 4:1 ratio o f increase
in off-farm income.
Since 1964, at least 50% o f total farm family income has been from off-farm
sources. The only exception was in 1973 when net farm income was at a record
high. The all-time high for off-farm income was 62% in 1976 and 1977.
As an alternative to the national aggregate amounts, Figure 1 charts the aver­
age farm and nonfarm income for farms o f all reported levels o f sales in 1978
(USDA, 1981:45). Despite the unequal intervals o f the sales classes, it is appar­
ent that, as total farm family income goes up, farm income increases but nonfarm
income decreases. This inverse relationship also raises several questions con­
cerning the role o f off-farm income. Is it earned to supplement the farm income?
Or, is the farm income sought in order to supplement the off-farm resources? In




88

Table 5.

Year
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978

Aggregate U.S. Farm and Off-Farm Income for Farm Operator
Families (Rounded to Billions o f Dollars)
Gross
farm income

S 39 billion
41
42
43
42
47
50
51
52
56
59
62
71
99
98
100
f 102
109
126

Net
farm income

Off-farm
family income

$12 billion
12
12
12
10
13
14
12
12
14
14
15
19
33
26
24
19
20
28

$ 8 billion
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
15
17
17
19
21
24
27
27
30
32
34

Total of net Off-farm as
and off-farm as percent
family income
of total
$20 billion
21
22
23
22
26
28
27
28
31
32
33
39
57
53
52
49
52
62

42 percent
43
45
48
53
50
50
54
56
54
55
56
53
42
50
53
62
62
55

Sourer. Economics, Statistics and Cooperatives Service. U. S. Dept, of Agriculture. Farm Income Statistics.
Stat. Bulletin No. 627 (October 1979): 31.

other words, which is the stronger career commitment o f these part-time and
multiple-career farm households? Which would they give up if they could?
Peihaps some o f the answers are linked with the type o f commodity the farm
produces. Research by Coughenour (1980b) indicates that those who raise beef
cattle seem more strongly committed to farming than those who raise hogs,
grains, or tobacco. This does not mean, however, that producers o f any particu­
lar commodity would necessarily terminate their farm operations in favor o f
nonfarm careers.
Another response to such questions may lie in the level o f total farm family
incomes. For example, households at the lower income levels would appear to be
in greater need o f off-farm resources; those with higher family incomes could get
along without the small portion o f off-farm income they obtain. But again, would
the higher-income households prefer to earn more from the farm if they could?
The reasons for farming could be more diverse than reasons for working away
from the farm. If so, there is probably no single answer to questions o f the
relative strength o f farm career commitments for part-time farmers and multiplecareer farm households.
If the lags in total family income for farms in the $5,000-$19,999 sales




89
Figure I . On- and Off-Farm Income per Farm Operator
Family by Farm Sales categories, 1978.
Income per Farm Operator Family,
By Farm Size, 1978
Sales
class

Percent
of farms

Under
$2,500

34.1

2,5004.999

10.3

5.0009,999*

10.5

10.000-

National median
family income ($17,640)

11.0

19.999

20,000 39.999
40,00099.999

100,000
and over
All farms

12.1

/mmi

Non-farm income

Net farm income
W ////////A
/
7.1 '//////////////////////////A

14.9

\

</m
L
10

-»20
fi-

30

40

50

60

70

Income ($1,000)

Source: Economics and Statistics Service, USDA and as presented by USDA (1981M5

categories (Figure I) are an indication, there must be some dilemmas in combin­
ingfarm and nonfarm careers. For these sales categories in particular andfor
whatever reasons, the interaction effect of farm and nonfarm careers seems
negative on total income per family.
In essence, data on aggregate and average farmJnonfarm incomes show that
off-farm sources have come to dominate the incomes offarm families. From the
standpoint of farm families, part-time and multiple-career farming seem to be
interlocked with other sources of income.
2.

Sources

The five categories o f off-farm income used by the agricultural census are
shown in Table 6 with the 1974 per-farm mean averages for operations selling at
least $2,500 o f products. Highest is income from nonfarm businesses. This
average is followed by salaried employment and at a distance by pensions,
rentals, and returns from investments. By far the most important source o f
income for the most farms is the 60% reported from off-farm employment other




90

than businesses. Nonfarm businesses are somewhat more lucrative on the aver­
age but account for just 20% of the off-farm receipts. The remaining sources
from such things as interest, social security, and rents amount to another 20%.
These data indicate that, in terms o f income, part-time or multiple-career farming
may occur to an appreciable extent in the absence of employment at nonfarm
business or salaried jobs.

T ble 6.
a

Sources of Off-Farm Income for U.S. Farms
Selling $2,500 or More, 1974

Sources

Mean perfarm

Nonfarm businesses

Percent of
total per source

$ 10,455

20

W ages, salaries, commissions, tips

8 ,836

60

Interest, dividends, royalties

2 ,507

12

Social Security, pensions, retirement, etc.

2 ,852

6

Rental o f nonfarm property

2,651

2

Total per farm =

$ 9 ,1 3 6

100 percent

(972,121 farms)

($ 8 ,8 8 2 million)

Source: U.S. Dept, of Commerce, 1974 Census of Agriculture, Vol. I, Part 51. Table 16, p. 1-14. Percentages
calculated from repotted data.

C.

Part-Time Farming, Rural Industrialization,
and the Reverse M igration

The relationship of farm to nonfarm employment by part-time farmers or
multiple-career households is also an issue in rural industrialization. Rural indus­
trialization has an intuitive policy appeal for improving employment, income,
and living conditions in rural areas and has been advocated for these purposes.
Not only should there be direct benefits from new jobs, but there should be
multiplier effects on other types of jobs and on the local economy at large.
It has been thought that low-income farmers could gain industrial employment
that would enable them to cease farming or, if they wished, could continue to
work their farms on a part-time or multiple-career basis. Rural industrialization
has probably served this purpose for some and helped to prevent a degree of
rural-to-urban migration from both farm and nonfarm rural residents. Moreover,
in what appears to be a major reversal in this migration pattern, the United States
nonmetropolitan population began to increase at a higher rate than that in metro­
politan areas during the 1970s (Brown and Wardwell, 1980; S
ocial Science
Qa
u rterly, 1980). Some of this is attributed to the decentralization of industries
into mral areas. In addition, moves by retirees, the expansion of colleges and
universities in rural areas, and rural recreational developments have contributed
to the reverse migration (Beale, 1975).




91

Firms moving into rural and farming regions often bring many employees
from the outside rather than drawing extensively upon the indigenous population
(Summers, 1982). On the other hand, it is not characteristic o f industries to
relocate in rural areas in order to pay higher wages to local people or higher taxes
to local communities. Therefore, the existing commitments o f farmers to that
career may be to the advantage o f off-farm employers in several ways. First,
farmers can afford to w6rk for low wages since they already have another source
o f income. Second, many o f the farmers are committed to their farms and may
not want to move away from their property for jobs. Third, they may also be
required to share the burden o f increased taxes needed to serve the larger indus­
trial work force.
Besides off-farm employment possibilities which might serve to enhance the
transition toward part-time and multiple-career farming, part-time farming may
increase in relation to the influx o f migrants. First, those retirees who stay or
relocate in sparsely populated areas may choose to do some farming as a pastime
or as an additional source o f income. Second, some people who move into rural
areas for jobs in industries, to schools, to other service jobs, or to recreational
communities may likewise enter part-time fanning for pleasure if not business.
D.

Part-Time Farming and the Com m unity

On the one hand, nonfarm jobs may help to retain farm residents in a locality
and, on the other, they may become alternative careers for those who move into
farming regions. In either event, the number o f part-time farms households may
grow. Their continued and increased existence in and around small communities
and outside major metropolitan areas may have effects beyond the farm house­
holds themselves.
In a comparison o f part-time and full-time farmers in south-central Missouri,
Heffeman and Green (1980) found similarities on most measures o f community
integration, community goals, and reasons for living in rural communities. The
mild-to-moderate differences that were observed occurred primarily among those
farmers who had lived in the communities less than seven years. Such variations
as were found may have been largely attributable to the facts that the part-time
farmers were younger, better educated, and o f higher incomes. The study did not
compare full-time, part-time, and nonfarm residents to see which kind o f farmers
most resembled the nonfarm population or to determine whether the presence o f
either mode o f farming mattered in the social conditions o f the area.
Findings by Coughenour and Christenson (1980) on the sample o f Kentucky
residents found that full-time, part-time, and multiple-career farmers were also
quite alike in personal and community satisfaction. In combination, however, all
three types o f farmers were more satisfied than nonfarm residents o f the state.
Therefore, what is known about the impact o f part-time farming in communi­
ties is sketchy. 6 u t if anything, it is speculated that recent migrants who are
part-time farmers do differ from full-time farmers and that farmers in general




92

may differ somewhat from nonfarmers. More information is needed before the
community role o f part-time and multiple-career farming can be adequately
understood.

E.

Part-time Farming and H ousehold Characteristics

The literature reviewed here has not been found to contain reports o f house­
hold or family characteristics for part-time and multiple-career farm units other
than the occupational and income variables that have been discussed. It is un­
known whether or how these families may differ from those o f the full-time and
nonfarm populations in size, marital status, extended family residence, fertility,
or age-gender composition. Neither is it clear whether part-time or multiplecareer farm households experience more or fewer interpersonal problems'.
In addition, what should be the implications for changes in the number o f these
families for society? Are there advantages to raising children under these kinds o f
work arrangements? A 1981 tax break for children on farms may be an advantage
that will encourage part-time and multiple-career farming (Economics and Statis­
tics Service, 1981) as well as similar mixes o f nonfarm employment and
businesses.

F.

Part-Time Farming as the Beginning, End, or
Continuation o f a Farm Career Commitment

Given a long-term decline in numbers o f farms (Tablé 7), the shift toward
part-time farming as measured by days worked o ff the farm (Table 2), and the
recently documented trend toward principal occupations other than farming (Table
2), it would seem that part-time farming might represent a transition out o f
farming altogether. This was an implicit assumption in many earlier studies o f
part-time fanning (e.g., Fuguitt, 1959; Bennett, 1967). Indeed, the trend which
can be documented since the 1930s for many farm operators to work away from
their farms (Table 7) corresponds to the national decline in the number o f farms
since their peak around 1920.
The exit function o f part-time farming is perhaps best seen in a Canadian
agricultural census panel analysis by Steeves (1979). He found that between
1966 and 1971 the percentage o f operators who left farming increased steadily
with the number o f days worked o ff the farms in 1966. While 22% o f those with
just one to six off-farm workdays in 1966 had left farming by 1971,46% o f those
who worked away for 229 or more days left during this period o f only five years.
This compares to 36% o f all operators and 34% o f the full-time farmers who quit.
Part-time farmers exceeded this rate if they had worked at least 127 days off-farm
during the base year. Therefore, it would seem that part-time farming does serve




93

as a transitional phase out o f farming for those who spend substantial proportions
o f their time doing other jobs.
On the other hand, part-time fanning may be viewed as an entry to full-time
farm careers. Steeves provides information on this aspect as well. As the number
o f off-farm workdays increased among those who did any farming during 1971,
so did the percentage who started farming since 1966. While 19% o f those
working away only one to six days had begun fanning during this span, 43% who
worked away at least 229 days in 1971 were not farming at all in 1966. Overall,
24% o f all farmers had taken full- or part-time farms since 1966 and 20% o f the
full-time farmers in 1971 were newcomers to the job.
Steeves concluded that off-farm labor provides an important two-way steppingstone for entering or leaving fanning and that both farm and nonfarm labor
markets are interdependent. While numerically there are fewer part-time farm­
ers, calculations from the Canadian data suggest proportionately more stepping
in than out. Whereas 27% o f the 166,000 part-time farmers in 1966 had left this
career by 1971, 46% o f the 88,000 who entered farming by 1971 were doing so
on a part-time basis.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Census o f Agriculture does not lend itself to this type
o f panel analysis that is required to assess the extent to which part-time farming
is die initial or terminal phase o f farm careers. No doubt part-time farming in the
United States serves both roles; and, no doubt, farming in certain regions o f the
United States may resemble that o f Canada or o f other industrialized societies.
However, such data do not appear publicly available for a panel analysis o f U.S.
agriculture at this time.
For Kentucky, at least, Coughenour and Gabbard (1977) do find that in the
early 1970s part-time farming seemed to have become more a path into farming
than a way out and into other occupations. The evidence that part-time farmers
are somewhat younger than full-timers (Table 3) further suggests this phenomenon.
Just as part-time farming would appear to serve as a point o f both entry to and
exit from farming, it must offer a third option: that o f a relatively permanent
career pattern combining farming with other forms o f work and income. Again,
national data are lacking to provide a picture o f the relative stability o f part-time
farm careers. Rather, some information is available from state studies. For
example, Coughenour and Gabbard (1977) discovered that part-time farmers in
Kentucky had been so for over eight years. In Illinois, a study by Hanson and
Spitze (as reported by Carlin and Ghelfi, 1979) found that only 6% o f the
part-time farmers anticipated a complete shift to off-farm jobs within five years.
This leaves a sizable majority who plan to continue. A recent USDA review o f
several such studies surmises that many part-time farms are not transitional forms
o f farm operations nor are they economically stressed. It (USDA, 1981:38)
concludes that “ Part-time farming has apparendy developed as a permanent
institution, with a different character than the one attributed to it in years past/*
Thus, part-time farming is no longer to be considered merely as a halfway house
for those operators leaving or entering farm careers.




94

V.
A

STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN AGRICULTURE
Social Structure:The Population, Farms and Farm W orkers

The relationship between population size and the labor required to produce
food and fiber has experienced a social transformation in this century. Several
indicators o f these changes are shown in Table 7. While the U.S. population has
continued to increase, the number o f farms and employment in farming have
decreased.
2.

Population

In 1920, when the United States population was about 106 million, the popula­
tion living on farms was about 32 million, or 30% o f the total. By 1979, the
national population had more than doubled to 220 million. Conversely, the farm
population had declined by 80% to around 6 million, or only 2.8% o f the total
population. This 2.8 percent represented one farm resident for every 35 citizens
in the country.
2.

Farms

As the population balance shifted from being predominantly rural in 1910
(54% rural) to more than one-half urban in 1920 (49% rural), the number o f
farms was at an all-time high at 6.5 million. But in 1978 there were only 2.7
million farms. During these 58 years, the average number o f persons per farm
had surged from 16 to 81— an increase o f 506 percent!
3.

Farm Employment

Simultaneously, farm employment dropped. It stood at about 12.5 million in
1930 but, according to various data sources, was only around 3.3-3.5 million by
the end o f the 1970s. Rather than one farm employee for every 10 people in
1930, there was one for about every 60 or more people in 1979.
Recorded data on those working for farm wages or salaries (Table 7) show
their number to have been highest in 1950 and 1960 at 1.6 and 1.8 million,
respectively, then declining in 1970 to 1.2 million and gradually rising to approx­
imately 1.4 million by 1979.
If the information from the 1980 Handbook o f Agricultural Charts is used for a
guide, only 2.5 million were family workers on farms in 1979. Another 1.3
million hired workers brings the farm labor force to 3.8 million. From 1970 to
1979, there was a decline o f..8 million family workers and a gain o f .1 million
hired employees for a net loss o f .7 million. Sixty-three percent o f the farm
workers were self-employed, as compared with 11% in other industries.
It is evident that drops in the farm labor force cannot continue to be anything
near .7 million per decade for very much longer. The ratios o f farm units per




95

population may widen, but the trends in farm and farm population numbers may
now continue to level o ff if not fluctuate.
4.

Part-Time Farm Work

Still, this has been a dramatic shift in the social resources needed to meet the
basic human requirements that farms and their workers produce. The output per
worker is even more impressive when one considers that so many o f the farm
operators and employees work only part-time and/or on a seasonal basis. As
noted earlier, 49% o f the farm operators in 1978 had a principal occupation other
than fanning. A General Accounting Office report (1978:55) indicates that 2.8
million farm laborers in 1966 amounted to just 1.1 million full-time equivalent
(FTE) positions. Therefore, the effective number o f FTEs is only about 39% o f
the total positions. These workers plus the farm operators—-of whom 49% are
principally working as something other than farmers— are the core o f the farming
activity.
This puts the effective ratio o f FTE farm workers to the dependent population
at a much wider ratio o f one position per 58 or so citizens estimated for 1979 in
Table 7. An arbitrary and probably optimistically high estimate that 75 percent or
2.85 million o f the 3.8 million farm positions are FTEs would make the ratio o f
farm workers to population about 1:77 or less.
Indexes o f total farm output and o f farm production per work hour may reflect
the effort o f the largely part-time and seasonal farm work force with greater
sensitivity (Table 7). Both indexes are adjusted to 100 in 1967. The total output
index gained 40 points from 1910 to 1954 and as much again by 1978. Hourly
production rose about 90 points from 1910 to 1967 and has nearly doubled since
that time. These indicators reflect the mechanization and associated technologies
o f the twentieth-century revolution in food and fiber production which has re­
leased people from the farm work required to meet the growing demand.
Regardless o f the trends toward a smaller farm population and labor force,
agriculture took a stronger role in the U.S. economy during the 1970s when farm
exports not only exceeded imports but rose sharply from about $10 billion in
1970 to $35 billion in 1979. This has served to offset deficits in nonagricultural
sectors and has helped to stabilized the national balance o f trade (USDA, 1980:63).
O f course, this does not directly indicate the success o f part-time farmers since
most o f the exporting is probably from the larger, full-time, commercial farms.
B.

Farm Structure: Size, Concentrations,
and Organizational Com plexity

Declines in the number o f farms, farm population, and farm labor force along
with the rise o f agricultural productivity and a growing population o f consumers
are only several o f the structural changes in American agriculture. Additional
transformations include trends toward larger average acreages for the fewer







Table 7.
1

2

Trends o f Structural Change in U.S. Agriculture

3

Farm
Farm
population
US.
population population percent of US.
(1000s)
total
(1000s)

1850
1880
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1954
1960
1964
1969

23,192
50,189
76,212
92,228
105,711
122,755
132,166
151,326

32,077
31,974
30,529
30,547
23,048

34.8
30.2
24.9
23.1
15.2

179,323

15,635

4

5

Number
offarms
(1000s)

US.
persons
perform

1,449
4,009
5,737
6,362
6,448
6,289
6,102
5,388
3,711

16
13
13
14
16
20
22
28
34
48
61
74

8.7
3,158
2,730

6

7

8

Total farm
employment
(1000s)

Farm wage
& salary
workers
(1000s)

US.
persons
per total
farm
employment

12,497
10,979
9,926
8,651
7,057
6,110
4,596

1,630

9.8
12.0
15.2

1,762

25.4

9

10
Index of
farm pro­
Index of duction
farm
per work
hour
output
1967=100 1967=100

43
51
52
60
74
80
91
95
102

13
14
16
20
34
42
65
81
110




1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1979*
1979“

203,810
206,219
208,219
209,859
211,389
213,051
214,680
216,400
218,228
220,099

9,712
9,425
9,610
9,472
9,264
8,864
8,253
7,806
6,501*
6,241*

Sourcesfor colum of data: 1.
ns
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

4.8
4.6
4.6
4.5
4.4
4.2
3.8
3.6
3.0
2.8

2,622b

81

2,701b

81

4,523
4,436
4,373
4,337
4,389
4,342
4,374
4,155
3,973
3,297
3,467
3.8 million

1,152
1,161
1,216
1,254
1,349
1,280
1,318
1,330
1,418
1,413
1,506
1.3 million

45.1
46.5
47.6
48.4
48.2
49.1
49.1
52.1
55.4
66.8
63.5
57.9

101
no
110
112
106
114
117
121
121

115
128
136
130
136
152
162
173
183

USDA, A Tim to Choose (1981):35.
e
1959 Census ofAgriculture, for 1910 population; USDA, A Tim to Choose (1981):35, for 1920-1979.
e
Calculated from cols. 1 and 2.
Statistical Abstract of the UnitedStates; 1926, for 1850*1900; various years for Census ofAgriculture.
1974 Census cfAgriculture, Vol. Il, Pt. I: IS; 1978 Census ofAgriculture: Prelim
inaryReport.
StatisticalAbstract cf the UnitedStates, 1979:681.
USDA, A Tim to Choose (1981):35.
e
Calculated from cols. 1 and 6. See also source for cols. 9 and 10, page 57, for domestic and foreign persons supported.
Economics, Statistics and Cooperatives Service, Changes in FarmProductionandEfficiency, 1978, Bulletin No. 628,1980:6-7.
Same as col. 9 source, p. 46.

Notes: *1974 agricultural census definition of farm.
^Respectively adjusted for 1974 census undercount and for supplementary area sample count in 1978.
U . S. Dept, of Commerce and USDA, Current Population Reports. FarmPopulation of the UnitedSuues: 1979, Series P-27, No. 53 (1980):5.
“USDA, 1980 Handbook cfAgricultural Charts, Handbook No. 574 (1980):25.

98

remaining farms; the disappearance o f middle-sized farms; specialization in tech­
nology; specialized labor; changing patterns of farm ownership; increased hired
labor requirements; new forms o f tenancy; increased energy and petroleum needs
for fuels, fertilizers, and pesticides; new land-use patterns; the increased critical­
l y o f water; new contractual arrangements and vertical integration; plus other
changes (Economics, Statistics, Cooperatives Service, 1979a, 1979b; General
Accounting Office, 1978; U.S. Senate, 1979; Shertz et al., 1979; Lin, Coffman,
and Penn, 1980; McDonald and Coffman, 1980). Several o f these farm-level
changes will be considered here with implications for part-time farming.

1. C a g in S
h n es
ize
Consider, for example, the opposite trends o f decreases in numbers o f farms
and increases in their mean acreages. From a high of 6.5 million farms in 1920,
the number has dropped to an unadjusted total o f 2.5 million (an adjusted total of
2.7 million) in 1978 (Table 7 and U.S. Department of Commerce, 1977a;
1980a). Simultaneously, mean farm size rose from 175 acres in 1940 to 303 in
1959 and to an unadjusted high o f 440 acres in 1974 (416 in 1978). In less than
40 years there has been a loss o f 3.6 million farms, or a 59% decrease in
numbers, with a corresponding increase o f 138% or 241 acres in size.
The current sizes o f these farms seem to be larger than household labor forces
could typically operate. The larger ones appear to be corporate farms. Still,
corporate farms may be held by families. In 1978, there were roughly eight
family corporate farms for each one owned by unrelated persons (U.S. Depart­
ment o f Commerce, 1980).
2.

The Disappearance of Middle-Sized Farms

To the extent that part-time farming is more characteristic o f smaller farms,
these structural trends suggest that the share of commercial output from part-time
farms may likewise decline. However, the picture is not entirely a gloomy one
for small farms. Their staying power— and that o f the many part-time farms they
coincidentally represent— seems more secure than that o f moderate-sized opera­
tions although not necessarily as good as that for the larger-than-family-sized
commercial operations.
This trend toward the disappearing middle o f the farm size distribution is
another vital structural change for small, family, and part-time farming. Harper
et al. (1980) found that there had been an increase in farms o f less than 50 acres
between the 1969 and 1974 agricultural censuses for all regions except the South.
In the North Central region, this was a reversal o f a trend toward fewer such
small farms from 1959 to 1964. All four regions showed appreciable declines in
middle-sized farms o f 50-999 acres from 1969 to 1974, while larger farms
became more numerous everywhere except in the West.
Comparing preliminary 1978 agricultural census figures with those o f 1974
indicates a similar national trend toward the disappearance o f 50-499 acre farms




99

whereas there are increases in farms either larger or smaller than this middle
category. The pattern is especially prominent in the Midwest and is now becom­
ing apparent in the South. It is not so clear in the Northeast and West. Yet, in all
regions farms or less than 50 acres seem to be holding their own or better in
numerical strength.
In gross sales, 1974 and 1978 census comparisons show national declines
among farms selling $10,000-$39,999 worth o f produce and increases among
farms selling $2,500-$9,999 and $40,000 or more. The next couple o f decades
look much the same for the size distribution o f farms according to their gross
sales. Lin et al. (1980:10) state: “ [T]he projections further reveal that future farm
numbers are likely to follow a bimodal distribution— a large population o f small
farms, an ever increasing proportion o f large farms, and a declining segment o f
medium size farms.” As noted here for the 1974-1978 period, the middle group
o f farms with $10,000-$39,999 in sales is predicted to experience shrinkage.
3.

Concentration of Production

Another example o f structural change shows the concentration o f production
in fewer large, commercial farms. Similar statistics are offered by a variety o f
recent sources (General Accounting Office, 1978:57; Schertz, 1979:27, 41-42;
Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service, 1979a:52-54; Schertz et al.,
1980:14-20; McDonald and Coffman, 1980:8-9; and Experiment Station Com­
mittee on Policy, 1981:3-6). In 1960, the 50,000 largest farms accounted for
23% o f the sales; in 1967, they received 30%; by 1977, they claimed 36% o f the
sales (U.S. Senate, 1979:11). To put it another way, by the mid-1970s the largest
5% o f the farms had 50% o f the sales whereas the smallest 50% o f the farms had
only 5% o f the sales (General Accounting Office, 1978:55-58)
No matter how it is said, the structural difference is that the bulk o f the farms
command only a small amount o f commercial agriculture. The concentration o f
production is increasing among the few largest farms.
The projections are that this concentration will continue. While the largest
20% o f the farms contributed 80% o f the production in 1974, for example, by the
year 2000 it is estimated that the largest 12% o f the farms will produce 80% o f
sales. Or, the largest 1% o f the farms in the year 2000 will furnish 50% o f the
agricultural goods whereas the smallest 50% will provide only 1% of the farm
product (Lin et al., 1980:12; McDonald and Coffman, 1980:8-9).
4.

Land Concentration

Although it is difficult to establish trends in farm and other types o f land
ownership (Lewis, 1980), some information over time is available on amounts o f
farmland operated by given numbers o f farms (Lin et al., 1980:14). For example,
54% o f the farmland was controlled by farms o f more than 1,000 acres in 1969.
This figure grew to 58% in 1974. By the year 2000, the nation’ s 1,000-acre
farms are projected to control 71% o f the land. As a second example o f trends in

40-762 0 - 8 5 - 7




100

farmland concentration, the largest 50,000 farms operated 30% o f the land in
1969, 35% in 1974, and are projected to be operating 50% by the year 2000
although such farms should comprise just 3% o f all farms at that time. In brief,
trends are toward control o f more farmland by fewer farms.
5.

The Role of Part-Time Farming in Structural Changes

Although commercial production and land are becoming more concentrated in
the very largest farms, small and primarily part-time farms seem to have a
promising future. Indeed, it may be part-time fanning that gives small farms
their tenacity in the face o f .the large-farm concentrations. And since part-time
farms are by no means all small, part-time farming might also significantly
contribute to and grow in importance for the survival o f the beleaguered farms in
the middle categories o f acreage and sales.
If part-time farming has now become the typical form o f small, family farm­
ing, it should therefore become an even more common occupational mode in
small-and medium-sized farming. O f course, the collective commercial impact
o f such farms is still likely to be insignificant in comparison to big agriculture'. But
while part-time fanners may find some economic rewards in terms o f supplemen­
tary household incomes or for household consumption needs, the more impor­
tant rewards may be social and psychological.
In any event, increases or decreases in part-time farming as an occupation
could have marked effects on other kinds o f structural conditions o f agriculture
including the farm population, the farm labor force, the total concentration o f
„ agricultural production in the hands o f the few, the number o f farms, and farm
sizes, to say nothing o f the impacts on underemployment, unemployment, the
domestic and local food supplies, family food expenditures, and rural and com­
munity development.

6. Organizational Complexity
Using principal occupation other than farming and having more off- than
on-farm income, an analysis o f North Carolina census data on farm structure
finds that part-time farming factors into a dimension with individual or family
ownership o f farms, operation by the full owner, off-farm residence, and farm
indebtedness (Wimberley and Belyea, 1979). By its nature, a part-time farm has
an added element o f structure complexity. It has a division o f labor, decision­
making, and time use which any full-time organization does not have. This
complexity exists at the level o f a part-time operation and at the level o f a
multiple-career household. Likewise, an increased role complexity is the nature
o f a part-time farming career. For either the farm organization or the part-time
career role, however, the complexity should not be considered necessarily as a
disadvantage; the joining o f farm and nonfarm components also serves to in­
crease the external linkages and options for each. In the case o f part-time farm
operations and part-time fanning careers, some o f these options include a means




101

of transforming one type o f career into another. Furthermore, these advantages
brought about by complementary part-time activities may provide a permanent
arrangement for increasing income, a buffer against hard or uncertain times, the
keeping o f a preferred residential location, or the continuity o f a lifestyle.
On the other hand, two or more occupational commitments may become
interdependent social investments which restrict career or residential mobility
whenever one o f the career lines offers greater potential as a full-time career
commitment.

VI.

CONCLUSIONS

This paper has attempted merely to explore and to describe certain aspects o f
part-time farming as it is currently found in our society. The purpose has not
been to analyze the data in the service o f any preconceived theory. Rather, the
intent has been to introduce a topic which deserves further empirical and theoret­
ical attention. The hard analytic and explanatory insights are yet to be formulated.
Some o f the findings summarized here are, first, that part-time farming has
become a dominant force in this nation’ s agriculture during this century. This
appears to be an historic transformation in how farm units are socially organized
for the production o f essential food and fiber needs.
Second, part-time farmers differ from other farmers in being somewhat youn­
ger, having farms o f smaller acreage and real estate value, being less likely to use
hired labor, and producing different types o f commodities. However, full- and
part-time farmers are similar in racial composition and in the use o f contract
labor. Data from one state suggest that part-time male farmers tend to be slightly
more blue-collar in their off-farm jobs than are citizens in general. So are the
female spouses on multiple-career farms. This plus other community characteris­
tics suggest that part-time farmers and their households are integrated into their
social surroundings.
Third, off-farm incomes have become increasingly significant for farm fami­
lies. The dominant sources o f off-farm income are employment and businesses,
with interest income, pensions, and rents being lesser contributors.
Fourth, both private sector relocations o f firms and the new patterns o f nonmet­
ropolitan migration are potential contributors to part-time farming activities. On
the one hand, the labor resources of fanners might be an attraction for firms to
relocate in farming areas and, in effect, tend to transform some into part-timers.
On the other hand, the reverse migration may also serve to bring nonfarm people
into part-time farming.
Fifth, part-time farming serves as a way into, as a way out of, and as a fairlystable career pattern o f farm operation. Whereas in earlier decades from the
1930s into the 1960s part-time farming may have been predominantly an exit
from farming altogether, it may now be proportionately more o f a portal into




102

farming on a full- or at least a stable part-time basis. However, conclusive panel
data on the United States are lacking on these speculations.
Sixth, part-time fanning may also play a role in structural changes in Ameri­
can agriculture by offsetting tendencies toward the concentration o f farm sales,
production, land, and other resources under the control o f relatively few large
farms, in certain forms o f commodity production at least.
Furthermore, household consumption o f farm products from part-time farming
may be beginning quietly to offset some purchases o f food among part-time and
dual-career farm households.
Several areas o f research on small and part-time farming have been summa­
rized by Coughenour and Wimberley (1982) and are offered here with regard to
part-time operations.
1. Data needs. Descriptive data are needed on part-time farmers whose
operations are smaller than the census definition includes. A public-use sample
o f census data is needed to further analyze part-time farm units in addition to the
county-level data usually available. Furthermore, national and regional panel
data could help determine the entry, stability, and exit rates o f part-time farmers.
2. Opportunities and barriers. In what ways does part-time farming create
opportunities as well as barriers to the expansion o f farming operations and to
full-time nonfarm employment?
3. Associationfor political and economic interests. To what extent are parttime farmers willing to participate with others to further their political and
economic interests?
4. Social interactions with others. How are part-time farm career patterns
associated with the nature o f off-farm career opportunities, personal and family
rewards or costs, and the social structure o f communities in which these house­
holds are found?
5. Part-time farming in society. What is the effect o f part-time farming on
the nature o f the larger society? For example, how does this form o f agriculture
influence social and cultural change, population movement, industrialization and
development, farm and nonfarm labor markets, energy use and supplies, conser­
vation and the environment, the food supply, consumership, and lifestyles?
In addition to these areas are the impacts o f part-time or multiple-career
farming on structural changes in agriculture and vice versa. Among these is the
role o f part-time and multiple-career farming in the concentration o f ownership,
production, and control o f land or other farming resources.
In general the sociology o f food and agriculture may be a “ black hole*’ o f the
sociological discipline. Just as the alleged gravity o f black holes in space lets
them emit no light which would call attention to them, the sociology o f food and




103

agriculture is also conspicuous for its absence. Unnoticed as it may be to sociol­
ogists, the need for food must be among the strongest o f social gravities that
enable society and culture to operate. It seems eerie that so little sociological
research and theory is directed toward its understanding.
Among the prime prerequisites for the continued existence o f social life are
air, water, and food. The environmental movement has recently caught the
attention o f some social scientists and turned them to the study o f natural re­
sources. While some may assume that rural sociologists have been studying
agriculture, this is rarely the case. Only in the past few years have even a
minority o f rural sociologists renewed interests in the sociology o f agriculture.
Yet the sociology o f food and agriculture goes beyond the customary boundaries
o f rural sociology or any other o f its subdisciplines.
Many sociologists have researched many types o f organizations and many
types o f career patterns— often exotic organizations and deviant careers. Yet
very seldom have farms been studied as complex organizations and rarely is
farming studied as an occupation or career. And if the study o f farms as organiza­
tions and the study o f farming as an occupational career are in a relative void, so
is the study o f part-time farming. Such is the nature o f black holes.
Large-scale agriculture is dependent upon fuels, fertilizers, chemicals, and the
transportation o f both farm supplies and products. With the coming o f potential
energy crises and increased demands for food, the emergence o f part-time farm­
ing might lend some protection against vulnerabilities in the food chain for
households and certain localities. However, to the extent that part-time farms are
specialized in one or a few commodities, the potential security o f part-time
farming is limited. Also, acute energy and food crises— or genetic weaknesses o f
plant varieties and animal species, worsening environmental conditions, hired
farm labor problems, increased costs o f transport o f commodities, and the like—
may not allow time to develop part-time farm operations further in time to meet
even minimal short-term food needs.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
While I am responsible for any faults o f this review, many o f the ideas have benefited
from my regional research colleagues in the South and Midwest and especially from
Milton Coughenour. Therefore, this paper may be considered in part a contribution
toward USDA Science and Education/Cooperative Research Project S-148, “The Chang­
ing Structure o f Agriculture: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications/' through
North Carolina Agricultural Research Service Project NCI 1148.

NOTES
1. These figures are from the 1978 Census o f Agriculture Preliminary Report (U.S. Dept, of
Commerce, 1980) and are adjusted for undercounts in the county totals. See Tables 1 and 2 for a
summary of the statistics used in these introductory paragraphs.




104

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RS-14. Lexington: Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky.
Coughenour, C. Milton, Ann Stockham, and James A. Christenson
1980 “ Kentucky Farm Families.” Community Development Issues 2: No. 5.
Coughenour, C. Milton, and Ronald C. Wimberley
1982 “Small and Part-Time Farmers.” Chapter 27 in D.A. Dillman and D.J. Hobbs (eds.), Rural
Society: Issues for the 1980s. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
Economics and Statistics Service
1981 Farmers'Newsletten General. Washington, D.C.: Economics and Statistics Service, USDA,
March.
Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service
1979a Farm Income Statistics. Statistics Bulletin No. 627. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept, of
Agriculture, October.
1979b Status of the Family Farm: Second Annual Report to the Congress. Ag. Econ. Report No.
434. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept, of Agriculture, September.
1979c Small-Farm Issues: Proceedings of the ESCS Small-Farm Workshop. ESCS-60. Washing­
ton, D.C.: U.S. Dept, of Agriculture, July.
1980 Changes in Farm Production and Efficiency, 1978. Statistics Bulletin No. 628. Washing­
ton, D.C.: U.S. Dept, of Agriculture, January.
Forth­
coming Status of the Family Farm: Third Annual Report to the Congress. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Dept, of Agriculture.
Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy
1981 Research and the Family Farm. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University.




105
Fuguitt, Glenn V.
1959 “Part-Time Fanning and the Push-Pull Hypothesis.” American Journal of Sociology 54:
375-379.
General Accounting Office
1978 Changing Character and Structure of American Agriculture: An Overview. Washington
D.C.: U.S. General Accounting Office.
Harper, Emily B .. Frederick C. Fliegel, and J.C. van Es
1980 “Growing Numbers of Small Farms in the North Central States.” Rural Sociology 45;
608-620.
Heffeman, William D., and Gary Green
1980 “ Part-Time Farming and the Rural Community.” Paper presented at Rural Sociological
Society meetings, Ithaca, New York. Columbia: Department of Rural Sociology, Univer­
sity of Missouri.
Lewis, James A.
1980 Landownership in the United States, 1978. Washington, D.C: Economics, Statistics, and
Cooperatives Service, USDA.
Lin, William, George Coffman, and J.B. Penn
1980 U.S. Farm Numbers, Sizes, and Related Structural Dimensions: Projections to Year 2000.
Bulletin No. 1625. Washington, D.C.: Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service,
USDA.
McDonald, Thomas, and George Coffman
1980 Fewer, Larger U.S. Farms by Year 2000—and Some Consequences. Agriculture Informa­
tion Bulletin No. 439. Washington D.C.: Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service,
USDA.
Nikolitch, Radoje
1972 Family-Size Farms in U.S. Agriculture. ERS 499. Washington, D.C.: Economic Research
Service. USDA.
Schertz, Lyle P., et al.
1979 Another Revolution in U.S. Farming? Washington, D.C.: U.S. Depaitment of Agriculture.
Social Science Quarterly
1980 Social Science Quarterly 61 (3&4).
Steeves, Allan D.
1979 “ Mobility Into and Out of Canadian Agriculture.” Rural Sociology 44: 566-583.
Summers, Gene F.
1982 "Industrialization.” Chapter 20 in D.A. Dillman and D.J. Hobbs (eds.) Rural Society:
Issues for the 1980s. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
1926 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1926. Washington, D.C.
1962 1959 Census of Agriculture, Vol. II, Chap. 2. Washington, D.C.
1967 1964 Census of Agriculture, Vol. II, Chap. 5. Washington, D.C.
1977a 1974 Census of Agriculture, Vol. I, Part 51. Washington, D.C.
1977b 1974 Census of Agriculture, Vol. II, Part 3. Washington, D.C.
1979 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1979. Washington, D.C.
1980a 1978 Census of Agriculture: Preliminary Report. Washington, D.C.
1980b Farm Population of the United States: 1979. Current Population Reports. Series P-27, No.
53 Washington, D.C.
1980c “Number of Farms by State and Value of Sales— 1974 and 1978 Censuses of Agriculture.”
Mimeograph, Table 1. U.S. Census of Agriculture. Washington, D.C.
United States Department of Agriculture
1979 Research, Extension and Higher Education for Small Farms: Report on Small Farms of the
Joint Council on Food and Agricultural Sciences. Washington, D.C.
1980 Handbook of Agricultural Charts. Agriculture Handbook No. 574. Washington, D.C.




106

1981
A Time to Choose: Summary Report on the Structure of Agriculture. Washington, D.C.
United States Department of Agriculture, Community Services Administration, and Action
1978 Regional Small Farms Conferences: National Summary. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Depart­
ment of Agriculture.
United States Senate
1979 Status of the Family Farm. Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestiy. Washing­
ton, D.C.
Wimberley, Ronald C., and Michael 1. Belyea
1979 “Measuring County Agricultural Structure.'* In W. Boykin (ed.), Rural Sociology in the
South: 1979. Lorman, Miss.: Alcorn State University.







TABLE 1

FARMS, LAND IN FARMS, AND LAND USE

Percent

Average Size of Farm

Harvested Cropland
Cropland used only for Pasture
or Grazing

2,257,775

100.0

-

16,651

-

0.7

100.0

1,014,777

100.0

-

30,022

-

3.0

10

-

2.2

439

449

Dollars

347,974

279,672

68,302

+ 24.4
•

Dollars

791

619

172

+ 27.8

36,466
57,747
47,346
55,065
9,273
404
1,224

+ 24.1
+ 14.7
6.2
- 9.5
- 4.3
0.4
+ 1.9

70,825
8,346

3.4
1.8

Farms by Size (Acres):
1
9
10
49
50
179
180
499
500
999
1000
1999
2000 +
Land in Farms According to Use:
Total Cropland

100.0

984,755

Land in Farms
(Acres,000)

Average per Acre

82/78
STChangi

82/78
Change

Percent

Number

2,241,124

All Farms

Value of Land and Buildings:
Average per Farm

1978

1982
Number

( 108)




APPENDIX

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE
1982
SUMMARY OF STATISTICS

«

187,699
449,301
711,701
526,566
203,936
97,396
64,525

8.4
20.0
31.7
23.5
9.1
4.4
2.9

151,233
391,554
759,047
581,631
213,209
97,800
63,301

6.7
17.3
33.6
25.8
9.5
4.3
2.8

Farms
Acres(000)

2,010,779
445,528

89.7
45.2

2,081,604
453,874

92.2
44.7

Farms
Acres(000)

1,809,901
326,312

80.8
33.1

1,904,602
317,146

84.4
31.3

Farms
Acres(000)

869,809
65,070,141

38.8
6.6

949,206
73,204,828

42.0
7.2

+
+

+

■
+

94,701
9,166
79,397
8,134,687

+

5.0
2.9
8.4
11.1




Other Cropland

Farms
Acres(000)

537,064
54,145,802

Farms
Acres(000)

917,141
87,133,026

Farms
Acres(000)

595,016
415,933

Farms
Acres(000)

1,496,824
36,161,228

Farms
Acres(000)

278,368
49,014,423

$1,000

131,810

Dollars

58,815

$1,000

62,274,394

$1,000

36,405,401

Cotton and Cottonseed

$1,000

3,232,609

Tobacco

$1,000

2,782,111

Woodland, including Woodland
Pastured
Pastureland and Rangeland other
than Cropland and Woodland
Land in House Lots, Ponds,
Roads, Wasteland, etc.
Irrigated Land
TABLE 2

SELECTED SUMMARY ITEMS

Market Value of Agricultural
Products Sold:
Average per Farm
Crops, including nursery and
Greenhouse Products
Grains

Hay, Silage, and Field Seeds

$1,000

2,314,999

Vegetables, Sweet Corn, and
Melons

$1,000

4,150,275

Fruits, Nuts, and Berries

$1,000

5,849,637

Nursery and Greenhouse Products

$1,000

3,823,663

24.0
5.5

699,464
63,523,350

31.0
6.3

162,400
9,377,548

23.2
14.8

40.9
8.9

939,563
91,815,487

41.6
9.0

22,422
4,682,461

2.4
5.1

26.5
42.2

585,446
433,317

25,9
42.7

+

9,570
17,384

+ 1.6
4.0

66.7
3.7

1,478,319
35,770,928

65.5
3.5

+
+

18,505
390,330

+ 1.3
+ 1.1

5.0

280,779
50,349,906

5.0

2,411
1,335,483

.86
2.7

107,073

+

24,737

+ 23.1

47,424

+

11,391

+ 24.0

48,203,200

+ 14,071,194

+• 29.2

26,747,307

+ 9,658,094

+ 36.1

3,101,232

+

131,377

+

2,319,428

+

462,683

+ -19.9

2,275,068

+

39,931

3,238,826

+

911,449

+ 28.1

4,601,397

+ 1,248,240

+ 27.1

2,835,732

+

987,931

+ 34.8




+

4.2

1.8




TABLE 2

1982
Number

Other Crops

$1,000

Livestock, Poultry, and Their
Products

3,715,699

$1,000

69,536,509

Poultry and Poultry Products

$1,000

9,732,222

Dairy Products

$1,000

16,322,513

Cattle and Calves

$1,000

31,579,973

Sheeps, Lambs, and Wool

$1,000

608,369

Hogs and Pigs

$1,000

9,872,193

Other Livestock and Livestock
Products

$1,000

1,421,239

Farms by Value of Sales:
Under
5
5
10
10
20
20
40
40
100
100 250
250

($000)

Value of Agricultural Products Sold
Directly to Individuals for Human
Consumption

Farm-Related Income:
Income from Machine Work, Customwork, and other Agricultural
Services

814,897
281,895
259,258
249,063
333,047
216,188
86,775

Farms

143,535
504,272

Farms

165,424
687,589

$1,000

$1,000

_______

Percent

Number

1978__________

82/78 .

Percent

3,084,210

Change
+

82/78
Ï

Change

+ 20.5

+ 10,666,251

58,870,258

631,489

+ 18.1

8,463,486

+

1,268,736

+ 14.9

11,228,899

+

5,093,614

+ 45.4

29,610,751

+

1,969,222

+ 6.7

644,574

36,205

+ 5.6

+

1,800,427

+ 22.3

850,783

36.4
12.6
11.4
11.1
14.9
9.7
3.9

+

8,071,766

+

570,456

+ 67.1

+

52,850
32,350
40,163
50,335
27,376
50,397
30,326

6.9
10.3
13.4
16.8
9.1
+ 30.4
+ 53.7

125,236
380,827

18,229
123,445

+ 14.6
+ 32.4

222,212

56,788
49,922

762,047
314,245
299,421
299,398
360,423
165,791
56,450

33.7
13.9
13.3
13.3
16.0
7.3
2.5

637,667




+

+

+

25.5
7.8




Farms by Type of Organization:
Individual or Family
Acres(000)

1,945,724
641,739

Acres(000)

223,339
151,343

Acres(000)

52,657
112,492

Acres(000)

7,131
13,992,416

Acres(000)

12,273
65,188,746

Farms
Acres(000)

1,325,931
342,630

Farms
Acres(000)
Acres(000)
Acres(OOO)

656,219
528,861
260,169
268,693

Farms
Acres(000)

258,974
113,264

Partnership
Corporation:
Family Held
Other than Family Held
Other-Cooperative, Estate
or Trust, Institutional, etc.

Tenure of Operator:
Full Owners
Part Owners
Owned Land in Farms
Rented Land in Farms
Tenants
Operators by Principal Occupation
and Residence:
Farming

1,234,858

Residence on farm Operated

934,949

Residence not on Farm
Operated

175,796

Other than Farming

1,006,266

1,965,860
673,188

20,136
31,448

1.0
4.7

232,538
158,078

9,199
6,736

4.0
4.3

44,413
102,002

+
+

8,244
8,490

+ 18.6
+ 8.2

5,818
16,118,159

+

1,313
2,125,743

+ 22.6
13.2

3,127
1,797,941

34.2
2.8

9,146
63,390,805

59.2

1,297,902
331,921

57.5

28,029
10,710

2.2
3.2

29.3

681,112
561,139
281,452
279,687

30.2

24,893
32,277
21,284
10,994

3.7
5.8
7.6
3.9

11.6

278,761
121,718

12.3

19,787
8,454

7.1
7.0

55.1

1,269,305

56.2

34,447

2.7

41.7

957,409

42.4

22,460

2.4

7.8

182,686

8.1

6,890

3.8

44.9

988,470

43.7

17,796

+ 1.8




+




TABLE 2

Number

1982

Percent

Residence on Farm Operated

646,312

28.8

Residence not on Farm Operated

253,575

11.3

Operators by Age Group:
Under 25 Years
25 to 34 Years
35 to 44 Years
45 to 54 Years
55 to 64 Years
65 Years and Over
Average Age

62,339
293,856
443,456
505,445
536,426
399,602
50.5

Female Operators:
Farms

Number

121,626

Land in Farms

Acres(000)

35,462,394

Operators by Race:
White
Black and Other Races
Operators Reporting Days of Work
Off Farm:
Any
100 Days or More
Selected Farm Production Expenses:
Livestock and Poultry Purchased
Feed for Livestock and Poultry
Commercially Mixed Formula
F r in ir

2,186,755
54,369

1,187,490
963,728

$1,000 17,110,899
$1,000 18,573,721

2.8
13.1
19.8
22.5
23.9
17.8

1978_________
Percent

82/78
Change

82/78
Change

%

27.8

66,575
285,420
433,900
549,159
552,175
370,546
50.3

+

18,017

+ 2.9

10.6

+

14,471

+ 6.1

2.9
12.6
19.2
24.3
24.3
16.4

+
+
+

4,236
8,436
9,556
43,714
15,749
29,056
+.2

6.4
+ 3.0
+ 2.2
8.0
2.9
+ 7.8
+ 0.4

+

8,827

+

7.8

+

119,534

+

0.3

2,199,787

+

13,032

+

0.6

57,988

+

3,619

+

6.2

+

12,913

+

1.4

+

1,071,655

+

6.7

+

2,787,726

+ 17.7

1,203,286
950,815

15,796




1.3

r

to




Seeds, Bulbs, Plants, and Trees

$ 1,000

Commercial Fertilizer

$1,000

Other Agricultural Chemicals

$1,000

Hired Farm Labor
Workers Working 150 Days or
More

$1,000
Farms
Number

Contract Labor

$1,000

1,106,129

Customwork, Machine Hire, and
Rental of Machinery and
Equipment

$1,000

2,024,725

Energy and Petroleum Products

$1,000

9,973,663

Gasoline and Gasohol

$1,000

2,987,056

Diesel Fuel

$1,000

3,150,413

Electricity

$1,000

2,040,615

Interest Expense

$1,000

11,673,895

Machinery and Equipment:
Estimated Market Value of all
Machinery and Equipment

$1,000

93,686,308

Dollars

41,930

Motortrucks, including pickups

Farms
Number

1,914,124
3,435,299

Wheel Tractors

Farms
Number

1,919,732
4,525,373

Average per Farm

2,607,118

+

566,636

+

21.5

21.7

6,330,581

+

1,358,996

+

2,889,503

+

1,393,292

+

48.2

6,814,428

+

1,619,971

+

23.8

317,161
953,694

+
+

4,540
3,582

+
+

1.4
0.4

898,959

+

207,170

+

23.1

1,750,875

+

273,850

+

15.6

+

65.5

6,025,704

+

3,947,959

2,054,818

+

932,238

+ 45.4

1,469,392

+

1,681,021

+ 114.4

1,308,290

+

732,325

+

55.9

(NA)

+ 16,085,619

+ 20.7

34,471

+

7,459

+ 21.6

1,907,021
3,357,829

+
+

7,103
77,470

+
+

0.4
2.3

1,962,676
4,626,228

_

42,944
100,855

-

-

2.2
2.2

77,600,689




-




TABLE 2________________________
Grain and Bean Combines, SelfPropelled Only

TABLE 3

_____________ 1982
Number
Farms

560,963

Farms
Number(000)

1,355,020
104,408

LIVESTOCK AND POULTRY

Cattle and Calves Inventory
Farms by Inventory:
1 to 19
20 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 499
500 or More

Cows and Heifers that had Calved
Beef Cows
Farms by Inventory:
1 to 19
20 to 99
100 to 199
200 or More
Milk Cows

Farms
495,920
Number(000) 4,692,278
Farms
373,306
Number(000) 11,754,241
Farms
242,426
Number(000) 16,755,363
219,986
Farms
Number(000) 40,564,667
23,382
Farms
Number(000) 30,641,638
Farms 1,153,899
Number(000) 45,034,042
957,693
Farms
Number(000) 34,182,790
546,968
Farms
Number(000) 4,481,597
343,896
Farms
Number(000) 13,791,739
42,373
Farms
5,505,481
Number(000)
24,456
Farms
Number(000) 10,403,973
Farms
Number(000)

277,784
10,851,252

Pert

___
:ent

Number

1978

82/78
Change

Percent’

82/78
Change

%

572,532

.

11,569

-

2.0

1,346,106
103,865

+
+

8,914
534

+
+

0.7
0.5

468,692
4,605,211
392,147
12,390,851
251,684
17,347,509
210,749
38,715,651
22,834
30,805,887

+
+

+
+
+
+

27,228
87,067
18,841
636,610
9,258
592,146
9,237
1,849,016
548
164,249

+
+
+
+
+
+

5.8
1.9
4.8
5.1
3.7
3.4
4.4
4.8
2.4
0.5

1,163,064
44,547,966

+

9,165
486,076

+

0.8
1.1

954,360
34,326,274

+
-

3,333
143,483

+
-

0.4
0.4

533,567
4,565,904
355,190
14,207,796
41,741
5,436,445
23,862
10,116,129

+

13,401
84,307
11,294
418,057
632
69,036
594
287,844

+

2.5
1.9
3.2
2.9
1.5
1.3
2.5
2.9

34,311
629,560

_

312,095
10,221,692

_
_
_

_
-

+
+
+
+
_

+




-

+
+
+
+
+

10.9
6.2

[




Farms by Inventory:
1 to 9
10 to 29
30 to 49
50 to 99
100 or More

Heifers and Heifer Calves
Steers, Steer Calves, Bulls,
and Bull Calves
Cattle and Calves Sold
Farms by Number Sold:
1 to 19
20 to 49
50 to 99
100 to 499
500 or More

Cattle Fattened on Grain
and Concentrates Sold

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)

62,692
204,432
52,646
1*030,637
59,424
2,252,405
53,345
3,475,222
19,677
3,888,565

Farms
Number(000)

1,073,653
28,665,154

Farms
Number(000)

1,150,459
30,708,991

Farms
Number(OOO)

1,278,628
71,139,881

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(OOO)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)

740,961
6,000,563
315,771
9,589,020
120,354
8,099,799
87,438
16,757,029
14,104
30,693,470

Farms
Number(000)

240,052
27,626,763

+
+
+
+

56,039
58,838
13,299
256,910
4,040
136,576
5,641
381,852
3,426
700,032

+
+
+
+

47.2
22.4
20.2
20.0
6.4
5.7
11.8
12.3
21.1
21.9

1,060,196
27,800,142

+
+

13,457
865,012

+
+

1.3
3.1

1,134,520
31,517,001

+
-

15,939
808,010

+
-

1.4
2.6

1,320,163
78,020,351

41,535
+
,
+ 6 ¡ 880,282

+
+

3.1
8.8

717,315
6,216,857
352,065
10,744,893
135,979
9,228,457
96,820
18,841,963
14,984
32,999,181

23,646
+ 216,294
+
36,294
+1,144,873
+
16,625
+1,125,658
+
9,382
• +2,084,934
+
880
+2,305,711

+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+

3.3
3.5
10.3
10.7
12.1
12.2
9.7
11.1
5.9
7.0

247,114
29,722,043

7,062
-2,095,280

-

2.9
7.1

118,731
263,261
65,945
1,287,547
63,464
2,388,981 .
47,704
3,093,370
16,251
3,188,533




_
_

_
_

_
-




TABLE 3_____________________
Dairy Products Sold

Hogs and Pigs Inventory
Farms by Inventory:
1 to 99
100 to 499
500 to 999
1,000 or More

Hogs and Pigs Used or to be
Used for Breeding
Farms by Inventory:
1 to 9
10 to 24
25 to 49
50 or More

Hogs and Pigs Sold
Farms by Numbers Sold:
1 to 99
100 to 499

________________1982
Number
Farms
$1,000

199,612
16,322,513

Farms
Number(000)

329,862
55,623,711

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(OOO)
Farms
Number(OOO)

211,493
5,082,940
89,155
20,086,556
19,885
13,137,256
9,329
17,316,959

Farms
Number(OOO)

223,695
6,952,948

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(OOO)
Farms
Number(OOO)
Farms
Number(OOO)

91,905
382,278
57,886
885,036
34,808
1,178,280
39,116
4,507,354

Farms
Number(OOO)

315,119
94,818,304

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(OOO)

173,065
5,145,726
100,348
23,431,908

Pere

:ent

Number

1978__________
Percent

82/78
Change

%

82/78
Change

216,833
11,228,899

+

17,221
5,093,614

7.9
+ 45.4

445,117
57,697,318

-

115,255
2,073,607

-

25.9
3.6
30.3
36.1
23.6
19.6
11.2
12.5
27.2
32.2

+
+
+
+

91,760
2,864,951
27,485
4,883,543
1,995
1,454,190
1,995
4,220,697

+
+
+
+

-

105,139
1,563,183

31.9
- 18.4

-

46,776
202,095
36,022
546,813
16,028
533,827
6,293
280,448

33.7
34.6
38.4
38.2
31.5
31.2
13.9
" 5.9

423,578
90,757,143

+
-

108,459
4,061,161

+ 25.6
- 4.5

237,402
8,033,221
140,658
31,646,338

+
+
+
+

74,337
2,887,505
40,310
8,214,430

+
+
+
+

303,253
7,947,891
116,640
24,970,099
17,890
11,683,066
7,334
13,096,262

328,834
8,516,131
138,681
584,373
93,908
1,431,849
50,836
1,712,107
45,409
4,787,802

_
-

_
_
_
_

•
_




.
-

■

31.3
35.9
28.7
26.0




500 to 999

Farms
Number(000)

30,042
20,578,235

1.000 or More

Farms
Number(000)

21,664
45,662,445

Feeder P1gs Sold

Farms
Humber(000)

90,377
20,044,693

Farms
Number(000)

235,191
10,360,847

Dec.l of Preceding Year & May 31

Farms
Number(000)

210,679
5,216,245

June 1 & Nov. 30

Farms
Number(000)

198,454
5,144,602

Farms
Number(000)

101,576
12,428,171

Farms
Number(000)

90,486
7,648,594

Sheep and Lambs Sold

Farms
Number(000)

94,954
10,766,550

Sheep and Lambs Shorn

Farms
Number(000)
Wool— Pounds

88,188
11,248,904
87,144,505

Farms
Number(000)

417,040
2,264,629

Utters of P1gs Farrowed Between*
Oec.l of Preceding Year & Nov.30

Sheeps and Lambs Inventory
Ewes 1 Year Old or Older

Horses and Ponies Inventory

I Chickens 3 Months Old or Older
^ Inventory

Farms
Number(000)

29,766
20,015,261

276
562,974

0.9
2.8

15,752
31,062,323

5,912
14,600,122

37.5
47.0

128,060
19,491,098

+

37,683
553,595

+

29.4
2.8

342,660
10,999,496

107,469
638,649

31.4
5.8

301,185
5,510,114

90,506
293,869

30.1
5.3

286,642
5,489,382

88,188
344,780

30.8
6.3

90,437
12,243,476

+
+

11,139
184,695

+ 12,3
+ 1.5

82,287
7,808,221

+

8,199
159,627

+

85,718
10,260,539

+
+

9,236
506,011

+ 10.8
+ 4.9

80,475
11,354,913
88,896,358

+

7,643
106,009
1,751,853

399,335
1,957,028

+
+

17,705
307,601

240,891
354,357

+

25,047
8,509




+

9,9
2,0

9.5
0.9
2.0

+ 4.4
+ 15.7

+

10.4
2.4




TABLE 3

1982
Number

Hens and Pullets of Laying Age
Inventory

20.000 or More

Broilers and Other Meat-Type
Chickens Sold

Turkeys Sold

TABLE 4

Farms
Number(000)

30,104
3,509,893
7,513
171,426

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

10.000 to 19,999

203,698
9,650,816
2,693
18,530,148
2,789
37,424,202
3,459
245,173

Farms
Number(000)

3,200 to 9,999

212,639
2,264,629

Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)
Farms
Number(000)

Farms by Inventory:
1 to 3,199

Farms
Number(000)

715,228
69,867,737
7,509,431

CROPS HARVESTED

Corn for Grain or Seed

Farms by Acres Harvested:
1 to 24 Acres
25 to 99 Acres
100 to 249 Acres
250 Acres or More

Corn for Silage or Green Chop

Farms
Acres(000)
Green Weight(Tons)

244,739
249,959
152,239
68,291

222,313
8,018,721
110,728

:ent

______ 1978_________

82/78

Number

Change

237,070
1,957,028

Percent
+

82/78
%

Change

+ 10.3
15.7

22,700
3,766,889
1,025
6,169,676
534
7,114,550
172
27,546

226,398
13,417,705
3,718
24,699,824
* 3,323
44,538,752
3,361
217,627

24,431
307,60.1

10.0
28.1
27.6
24.9
16.1
15.9
4.7
12.7

31,743
3,062,154

1,639
+

5.2
447,738

+14.6

6,033
141,276

+
+

1,480
30,150

+24,5
+21.3

95,349
175,743
704,245

+ 11.8
+ 0.3
-10.3

810,577
70,043,480
6,805,186

+
+

294,127
289,818
164,802
61,830

■
+
+
+

240,561
8,271,817
111,126

+




49,388
39,859
12,563
6,461

+16.8
+13.8
+ 7.6
-10.4

18,248
253,096
398

7.6
3.1
+ 0.4

00




Sorghum for Grain or Seed

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

93,700
12,678,698
725,981

Wheat for G^ain

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(OOO)

446,049
70,889,930
2,372,551

Farms by Acres Harvested:
1 to 24 Acres
25 to 99 Acres
100 to 249
250 Acres or More

128,047
152,067
84,269
80,666

Barley for Grain

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

79,310
8,651,617
468,383

Oats for Grain

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(OOO)

280,888
9,131,093
505,784

Farms
Acres(000)
Bales(000)

38,268
9,781,905
11,375,790

Cotton

Farms by Acres Harvested:
L t o 24 Acres
25 to 99 Acres
100 to 99 Acres
250 Acres or More
Tobacco

Soybeans for Beans

5,098
11,164
10,138
11,868
Farms
Acres(000)
Pounds

179,285
934,380
1,877,557

Farms

511,247

16,750
292,195
67,408

17.4
3.3
+ 10.2

378,574
54,155,168
1,607,540

67,475
.16,734,762
765,010

17.8
30.1
47.6

125,760
121,414
67,956
63,444

2,287
30,653
*17,313
17,222

1.8
25.2
25.5
27.1

96,060
8,943,812
427,559

16,750
292,195
40,825

17.4
3.3
+ 9.5

319,744
10,121,903
513,485

38,856
990,810
7,702

12.2
9.8
1.5

52,628
12,693,772
10,686,447

14,360
2,911,867
+
689,323

27.3
22.9
+ 6.5

7,978
15,504
13,655
15,491

2,880
4,430
3,517
3,623

36.1
27.9
25.7
23.4

188,649
963,224
1,918,190

9,364
28,844
40,632

5.0
3.0
2.1

113,336
12,899,829
658,573

537,037




+

+

+

25,790

+

4.8




TABLE 4

_______1982

Number

Soybeans for Beans

Acres(OOO)
Bushels(000)

Farms by Acres Harvested:
1 to 24 Acres
25 to 99 Acres
100 to 249 Acres
250 Acres or More

108,348
208,093
129,175
65,631

Farms
Acres(000)
Cwt(OOO)

27,025
1,269,268
334,857

Farms
Acres(000)

1,051,055
56,750,845

Farms
Acres(000)
Dry Weight(tons)

508,303
23,911,551
71,675,213

Farms
Acres(000)

69,157
3,337,095

Irish Potatoes

Hay-Alfalfa, Other Tame, Small
Grain, Wild, Grass Sil age, Green
Chop, etc.

Alfalfa Hay

Vegetables Harvested for Sale

Farms by Acres Harvested:
0.1 to 4.9 Acres
5.0 to 24.9 Acres
25.0 to 99.9 Acres
100.0 Acres or More
Land in Orchards

Farms by Acres Harvested:
0.1 to 4.9 Acres
5.0 to 24.9 Acres
25.0 to 99.9 Acres
100.0 Acres or More

64,830,833
1,969,931

29,553
19,957
13,219
6,428
Farms
Acres(000)

123,707
4,752,968

48,504
44,422
21,870
8.911

82/78

Number

Percent

61,339,849
1,722,154

82/78

Change

1978

ent

%

126,345
226,822
126,598
57,272

26,421
1,385,886
351,217

17,997
18,729
2,577
8,359

+

+
+

604
116,618
16,360

+
+

Change
5.7
14.4

3,490,984
247,777

+

14.2
8.3

2.0

14.6

2.3
8.4
1.9

1,132,997
60,241,391

81,942
3,490,546

7.2
5.8

557,585
25,960,083
75,008,845

49,282
2,048,532
3,333,632

8.8
7.9
4.4

73,183
3,534,142

4,026
197,047

5.5
5.6

29,777
21,893
14,885
6,628

224
1,936
1,666
200

0.8

8.8
11.2
3.0

121,852
4,463,627

+
+

1,855
289,341

+
+

1.5
6.5

44,881
45,743
22,940

+

3,623
1,321
1,070

+

8 .1




2.9
4.7




Nursery and Greenhouse Products,
Mushrooms, and Sod Grown for Sale

TABLE 5

Farms
Sq. Ft.(000)
Acres(000)
$ 1,000

FARMS WITH SALES OF $10,000 OR MORE

Farms

Number(OOO)

Land in Farms
Average Size of Farm
Value of Land and Buildings:
Average per Farm
Average per Acre

Acres(000)
Acres(000)
Dollars
Dollars

Farms by Size:
1 to 9 Acres
10 to 49 Acres
50 to 179 Acres
180 to 499 Acres
500 to 999 Acres
1.000 to 1,999 Acres
2.000 Acres or More
Land in Farms According to Use:
Total Cropland
Harvested Cropland
Irrigated Land

Farms
Acres(000)
Farms
Acres(000)
Farms

1,143,253
809,505

+
+
+
+

34,650
564,543
404,404
2,835,732

35,514
642,304
452,297
3,823,663

51.0
82.2

1,180,151
829,229

864
7,776,137
47,893
987,931

+ 2.5
+ 13.8
+ 11.8
+ 34.8

36,898

81.4

3.1

19,723

52.3

2.4
+

708

703

+

5

560,808

440,971

+

119,837

+ 27.2

791

628

+

163

+ 26.0

+
+

+

4,973
7,162
5,975
37,000
6,620
33
1,176

+ 14.0
+ 10.4
2.0
8.4
3.5
0.04
+ 2.0

40,604
76,295
287,327
401,872
184,863
91,698
61,175

1.8
3.4
12.8
17.9
8.3
4.1
2.7

35,631
69,133
293,302
438,872
191,483
91,731
59,999

1.6
3.1
13.0
19.4
‘
8.5
4.1
2.7

0.7

1,083,774
396,298

1,125,698
394,833

*

41,924
1,464

+

3.7
0.4

1,051,626
306,245

1,091,464
292,173

+

39,838
14,072

+

3.6
4.8

183,472

190,147




6,675

3.5

IC




_______ 1982
Number

TBE 5
AL

Selected Farm Production Expenses:
Commercial Fertilizer

$1,000

7,320,440

Other Agricultural Chemicals

$1,000

4,155,709

Hired Farm Labor

$1,000

8,147,471

Energy and Petroleum Products

$1,000

9,286,101

Interest Expense

$1,000

10,952,360

Farms
Number(000)

675,671
89,058,785

Beef Cows

Farms
Number(000)

416,162
26,591,377

Milk Cows

Farms
Number(000)

212,215
10,634,955

Farms
Number(000)

219,155
53,696,097

Farms
Number(000)

77,524
357,803

Corn for Grain or Seed

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(OOO)

546,648
62,273,380
7,342,017

Wheat for Grain

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(OOO)

367,256
68,457,908
2,313,661

Farms
Acres(000)
Bales(OOQ)

33,188
9,608,299
11,259,932

Cattle and Calves Inventory

Hogs and Pigs Inventory
Chicken 3 Months Old or
Older Inventory

Cotton

Pere

1978_____________

:ent

82/78

Percent

Number

Change

82/78
% Change

5,909,619

+ 1,410,821

+ 23.9

2,738,024

+ 1,417,685

+ 51.8

6,541,391

+ 1,606,080

+ 24,6

5,475,402

+ 3,810,699

+ 69.6

711,436
89,260,678

35,765
201,893

5.0
0.2

442,990
26,948,942

26,828
357,565

6.1
1.3

229,473
9,922,646

17,258
712,309

7.5
7.2

283,535
54,115,219

64,380
419,122

22.7
0.8

21,497
9,507

21.7
+ 2.7

(NA)

99,012
348,295

+

587,183
66,542,688
6,573,923

40,535
+ 1,070,103
+
768,094

6.9
+ 1.6
+ 11.7

302,679
51,202,136
1,541,197

64,577
■
+
+ 17,255,772
772,464

+ 21.3
+ 33.7
+ 50.1

43,937
12,417,308
10,544,540

10,749
2,809,009
715,392
+

•24.5
■22.6
+ 6.8




to

to




Tenure of Operator:
Full Owners

482,201

21.5

Part Owners

490,983

21.9

Tenants

170,069

7.6

901,504

40.2

241,749

10.8

Operators by Principal Occupation:
Farming
Other than Fanning
Estimated Market Value of all
Machinery and Equipment
Average per Farm
Market Value of Agricultural
Products Sold
Average per Farm

$1,000

79,469,277

Dollars

69,640

$1 Million

127,960

Dollars

111,926

Crops, including nursery
and Greenhouse Products

$1,000

60,658,213

Livestock, Poultry, and their
Products

$1,000

67,301,435

Poultry and Poultry Products

$1,000

9,701,956

Dairy Products

$1,000

16,237,251

$1,000

16,554,334

Feed for Livestock and Poultry

$1,000

17,883,345

Seeds, Bulbs, Plants, and Trees

$1,000

3,049,607

Selected Farm Production Expenses:
Livestock and Poultry Purchased

485,164

21.5

2,963

0.6

514,399

22.8

23,416

4.6

180,588

8.0

10,519

5.8

934,066

41.4

32,562

3.5

246,085

10.9

4,336

1.8

+ 13,465,631

+ 20.4

55,694

+

+ 25.0

102,928

+

25,032

+ 24.3

87,216

+

24,710

+ 28.3

46,375,510

+1*,282,703

+ 30.8

56,552,071

+10,749,364

+ 19.0

8,430,754

+ 1,271,202

+ 15.1

11,127,307

+ 5,109,944

+ 45.9

15,576,421

+

+

15,144,923

+ 2,738,422

+ 18.1

+

+ 23.5

66,003,646

13,946

g

2,470,186

977,913

579,421




6.3




Farms by Size:
500 to 999 Acres
1000 to 1999 Acres
2,000 Acres or More
Land in Farms According to Use:
Total Cropland
Harvested Cropland
Irrigated Land

19,073
5,698
3,350

Farms
Acres(000)

927,005
49,230

Farms
Acres(000)

758,275
20,067

Farms
Acres(000)

94,896
2,145,419

Tenure of Operator:
Full Owners

843,730

Part Owners

165,236
88,905

Tenants
Operators by Principal Occupation:
Farming

333,354
764,517

Other than Farming
Estimated Market Value of all
Machinery and Equipment
Market Value of Agricultural
Products Sold
Crops, including Nursery and
Greenhouse Products

$1,000

$1 Million
$1,000

14,217,031

3,851
1,616,181

0.9
0.3

0.1

21,726
6,069
3,302

1.0
0.3
0.1

+

2,653
371
48

+

12.2
6.1
1.5

955,906
59,041

28,901
9,811

3.0
16.6

813,138
24,973

54,863
4,906

6.7
19.6

90,632
2,565,885

+

4,264
420,466

+

30,992

+

4.7
16.4

3.8

812,738

36.0

7.4

166,713

7.4

1,477

0.9

4.0

98,173

4.3

9,268

9.4

0.6

37.7

14.9

335,239

14.8

1,885

34.1

742,385

32.9

22,132

+

3.0

11,597,043

+ 2,619,988

+ 22.6

4,146

295

7.1

211,509

11.6

1,827,690







TABLE 5

_______ 1982
Number

Tobacco

Farms
Acres(000)
Pounds(000)

87,626
794,636
1,641,618

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

410,460
62,273,380
1,931,321

Farms
Acres(000)
Cwt(000)

13,896
1,253,254
332,476

Farms
Acres(000)

593,688
46,429,647

Vegetables Harvested for Sale

Farms
Acres(000)

40,092
3,208,983

Land in Orchards

Farms
Acres(000)

51,469
4,148,195

Soybeans for Beans

Irish Potatoes

Hay-Alfalfa, Other Tame, Small
Grain, Wild, Grass Silage, Green
Chop, etc.

TABLE 6

FARMS WITH SALES UNDER $10,000

Farms
Land in Farms
Average Size of Farm
Farms by Size:
1 to 9 Acres
10 to 49 Acres
50 to 179 Acres
180 to 499 Acres

Number(OOO)

1,097,871

Acres(000)

155,250

Acres(000)

141

147,095
373,006
424,374
125,275

82/78
Change

1978
Percent

Number

Percent

86,279
805,723
1,647,868

+

1,347
11,087
6,250

82/78
% Chang
+

1.6
1.4
0.4

413,082
58,047,445
1,653,376

2,622
+ 4,225,935
+
277,945

0.6
+ 7.3
+ 16.8

14,559
1,368,354
349,017

663
115,100
16,541

4.6
8.4
4.7

645,284
48,780,891

51,596
2,351,244

7.9
4.8

41,659
3,363,252

1,567
154,269

3.8
4.6

53,386
3,908,105

1,917
240,090

3.6

+

6.1

49.0

1,077,624

47.7

20,247

16.1

185,548

18.3

30,298

16.3

31

18.0

171

6.6
16.6
18.9
5.6

115,602
322,421
465,747
142,759

5.1
14.3

20.6
6.3




31,493
50,585
41,371
17,484

+

+
+

1.9

27.2
15.7
8.9
12.2

to

Ol




______ 1982

TBE 6
AL

Number

Livestock, Poultry, and Their
Products

$1,000

Poultry and Poultry Products

$1,000

30,266

Dairy Products

$1,000

85,262

Selected Farm Production Expenses:
Livestock and Poultry Purchased

2,235,074

$1,000

556,565

Feed for Livestock and Poultry

$1,000

690,376

Seeds, Bulbs, Plants, and Trees

$1,000

124,147

Commercial Fertilizer

$1,000

369,137

Other Agricultural Chemicals

$1,000

127,086

Hired Farm Labor

$1,000

286,928

Energy and Petroleum Products

$1,000

687,562

Interest Expense

$1,000

721,535

Farms
Number(OOO)

679,349
15,350

Beef Cows

Farms
Number(000)

541,531
7,591,413

Milk Cows

Farms
Number(OOO)

65,569
216,297

Farms
Number(000)

110,707
1,927,614

Farms

138,320

Cattle and Calves Inventory

Hogs and Pigs Inventory

Chickens 3 Months Old or
Older Inventory

Pere

___
:ent

1978
Number

82/78
Change

Percent

82/78
% Change

3.6

83,113

2,318,187
32,732

2,466

7.5

101,592

16,330

16.1

+

93,742

+ 20.3

+

49,304

+

462,823
641,072

7.7

136,932

12,785

9.3

420,962

51,825

12.3

151,479

24,393

16.1
+

273,037

+

13,891

550,302

+

137,260

5.1

634,670
14,605

+
+

44,679
745

+
+

7.0
5.1

511,370
7,377,332

+
+

30,161
214,081

+
+

5.9
2.9

+ 24.9

(NA)

82,622
229,046

17,053
82,749

20.6
36.1

161,582
3,582,099

50,875
1,654,485

31.5
46.2

141,870

3,550

2.5







Corn for Grain or Seed

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

168,580
2,254,946
167,414

Wheat for Grain

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

78,793
2,432,022
58,890

Farms
Acres(000)
Bales(OOO)

5,080
173,606
115,838

Farms
Acres(000)
Pounds(000)

91,659
139,744
235,939

Farms
Acres(000)
Bushels(000)

100,787
2,557,453
58,610

Farms
Acres(000)
Cwt(OOO)

13,129
16,014
2,381

Farms
Acres(000)

457,367
10,321,198

Vegetables Harvested for Sale

Farms
Acres(000)

29,065
128,112

Land in Orchards

Farms
Acres(000)

72,238
604,773

Cotton

Tobacco

Soybeans for Beans

Irish Potatoes

Hay-Alfaifa, Other Tame, Small
Grain, Wild, Grass Silage, Green
Chop, etc.

75,895
2,953,032
66,343

24.5
35.6
27.6

54,814
1,245,846
63,848

223,394
3,500,792
231,262
+

2,898
521,010
7,453

8,691
276,464
141,907

3,611
102,858
26,069

102,370
157,501
270,321

10,711
17,757
34,382

123,955
3,292,404
68,778

23.168
734,951
10.168

+

11,862
17,532
2,200

*
+

1,267
1,518
181

-

3.8
17.6
11.2
41.6
37.2
18.4
10.5
11.3
12.7

-

18.7
22.3
14.8

+

10.7
8.7
8.2

+

487,713
11,460,500

30,346
1,139,302

6.2
9.9

31,524
170,890

2,459
42,778

7.8
25.0

68,466
555,522




+
+

3,772
49,251

+
+

5.5
8.9