Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Billy Trevena

Committee Members

M. B. Badenhop, S. D. Mundy


The objectives of this study were; (1) To distinguish between part-time and full-time farmers In the study area according to an estab-lished criterion and Indicate their significance; (2) To establish a profile of land, labor, and capital resources of typical part-time farm families; (3) To determine the types and amounts spent on various farm expense Items on part-time farms; and (4) To compare part-time farmers with full-time farmers according to economic activities, farm household characteristics, attitudes relating to farming, levels of satisfaction with life and farming, and personal feelings about their managerial abilities. These objectives were to revolve around the central problem of low Incomes of farm people. The data were obtained from a sample of 287 farmers In a 12-county study area In Upper East Tennessee. A random area survey technique was used to select the sample units. A subsequent Interview was given to a randomly selected subset of part-time farmers. All farmers Interviewed were grouped according to specific criteria. The data collected from two of the groups of farmers classified as full-time and part-time operators were analyzed. Production factors of land, labor, and farm capital on part-time farms were described. Other areas examined which completed the typical situation existing on part-time farms Included types of farm enterprises, expenses, and farm Incomes. Actual size of part-time farms was small (averaging 36.1 acres) with only an average of 4.3 acres being used for crop production. Pasture and hay acreage remain the single most Important land-use pattern on part-time farms (averaging 32.5 acres). Hired labor utilized on part-time farms was limited due to the expense involved. The average expenditure for farm labor hired in 1975 was $356. Family labor was the most important source of labor in the part-time farming operation. Farm investment items studied on part-time farms in the study area were land, farm machinery, and farm buildings. Investment in land was the highest investment item on these farms averaging $25,908 at time of acquisition. The 1975 gross farm income was the single significant variable accounting for the variation of investment in farm machinery in a multiple linear regression analysis. Burley tobacco and cow-calf herds were the dominant crop and livestock enterprises on part-time farms in the study area. Crop expenses during 1975 which averaged $664 were found to be the highest of all type expenses accounted for on part-time farms. Fertilizer, sprays, seed, and fuel were typical costs which were included in crop expenses. Gross farm income for 1974 on part-time farms was related to the size of the farm according to the results of a chi-square statistical analysis. Others which were found to be significant as specified by calculated correlation coefficients were land rented in, row crop and pasture acreage, and total household income. Off-farm employment by part-time farmers and the income derived from it was a major factor contributing to the well-being of farm families. Characteristics of the off-farm job which were studied in-cluded commuting distances traveled, type of nonfarm employment, and vocational training. Commuting distances traveled by part-time farmers averaged almost 17.7 miles one way. These commuting distances involved significant amounts of time which were needed for the farm work. The most common type of nonfarm occupation among farmers in the study area was the skilled mechanical trades occupational group. It was also found that of those farmers having vocational training, most had training related to mechanical skills. Attitudes and personal feeling among both part-time and full-time farmers were accounted for by a series of questions designed to indicate how the farmers felt toward a certain item. A test of mean scores for each of the nine determinations was employed to test for significant differences. Of the nine determinations, only one was found to be significantly different between the two groups of farmers. The numerical mean score in the determination of attitude toward risk was statistically different for the farmers. Interpretation of the mean score for both groups of farmers indicated that on the average, part-time farmers assume risk more readily than full-time farmers. Several of the characteristics relating to the farm and operator were compared by a t-test of the means of specific variables. Part-time farmers were younger and had larger families than full-time farmers. Full-time farmers, however, consulted their local county extension agent significantly more often than part-time operators. Among some of the farm characteristics found to be significantly different were total farm acreage owned, acreage being used for row crops, pasture, timber, and the amount of acreage rented in. All of these farm characteristics were significantly larger on full-time farming operations than on part-time farms.

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