Status and Prospects of Small Farmers in the South




Marshall, Ray
Thompson, Allen

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Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources


A study of the problems of small farmers is important for a number of reasons. In the first place, despite the large-scale displacement of small farmers in the United States since World War II, many small farmers remain, making their welfare an important concern for all of those interested in the problems of low-income people. As will be seen in Chapter II, however, all small farmers are not low-income people. So for public policy purposes, it is important to delineate major categories of farm operators. Some farmers are retired and have nonfarm income from pensions or investments. Some work mainly off farm and farm either as a hobby or as a marginal source of income. Still others work mainly in agriculture and supplement their income with off-farm earnings. Some small farmers make their livings entirely from farming; some are young farmers seeking to grow larger, while others are older and nearing retirement. Any policy to deal with the problems of small farmers clearly must be based on an understanding of the diversity in these small farmers.


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