Date of Award
Master of Science
B.J. Trevena, C.B. Sppington
This study reports the results of data examined on important trends which have occurred in the Obion-Forked Deer River Basin economy. Special emphasis was placed upon the agricultural sector. Also examined were data on employment trends in the nonagricultural industries and on selected economic factors relevant to the Area's economy.
In examining the direction and magnitude of changes that have occurred in agriculture, data from the 1959, 1964, and 1969 United States Census of Agriculture were used. To examine changes in general population characteristics and in the major nonagricultural industries, data were used from the 1960 and 1970 United States Census of Population. Data on land capability and limitation in land use for agricultural purposes were obtained from the Tennessee Soil and Water Conservation Needs Inventory published by the Soil Conservation Service. Whenever appropriate, use was also made of statistics reported by the Tennessee Crop Reporting Service of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, by the Center for Business and Economic Research of The University of Tennessee, and from selected publications of the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Sustained growth in the agricultural sector of the Study Area during the 1960 decade has been linked primarily to an increase in farm size, the control of greater capital resources, and to increases in production per acre. If the farm operators in the Study Area are to compete successfully with those in other major farming areas, they must obtain greater efficiencies in production and increase their output and sales.
Agriculture in the Area is based more on crop than livestock production. In 1969, the value of crops sold in the Area totaled $82 million, representing 56 percent of the total value of all farm products sold. Major changes occurred in acreage devoted to field crops. Soybeans acreage increased 184 percent, from 226,000 acres in 1959 to 641,000 acres in 1969; corn acreage declined 34 percent, from 444,000 acres in 1959 to 291,000 in 1969; cotton acreage declined 13 percent from 321,000 acres in 1959 to 270,000 in 1969; and wheat acreage increased 160 percent, from 25,000 acres in 1959 to 65,000 acres in 1969.
Livestock and livestock product sales in 1969 totaled over $64 million representing 44 percent of the total value of all farm products sold in 1969. There were substantial increases in beef cow numbers from 1959 to 1969, while decreases occurred in other forage—consuming livestock. Also, swine production should continue to be an important livestock enterprise.
Expanding nonfarm job opportunities and declining opportunities in the Study Area's agriculture between 1960 and 1970 forced over 18,000 agricultural workers to turn to nonagricultural industries for employment and higher incomes.
Employment data during the 1960's showed a net increase of over 35,000 persons employed in the nonagricultural industries with two-thirds of the increase being in the manufacturing industries. Future employment gains in the nonagricultural industries are expected with a projected employment growth rate of 2.1 percent annually or 24,500 persons during the 1970 decade.
Between 1960 and 1970, the number of productive workers in the Area, those in the 18-64 years age group, increased in absolute terms as did the number of persons in the older age group, those over 64 years of age. Persons in the younger age group, those less than 18 years of age, decreased in number by more than 5 percent. This decline in the number of persons in the younger age group will reduce the size of the potential labor force during the 1970's.
Income levels in the Study Area not only are below national averages, but are also below those of Tennessee. In 1970, median family income for the Area was $5,872 as compared to $9,867 for the U.S. and $7,447 for Tennessee. Twenty-three percent of the families in the Area had family incomes less than the poverty level as com pared to 18 percent in Tennessee.
Thomsen, Rodney Mack, "An economic survey of the Obion-Forked Deer River Basin area. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1973.