- Education and Training: focus group, participatory research
- Sustainable Communities: quality of life, sustainability measures, financial/profitability
In the U.S., farms are growing larger and more highly mechanized, with the majority of agricultural output coming from an increasingly smaller percentage of farms. Small producers, defined as farmers and ranchers with gross cash farm income less than $350,000, contribute approximately a quarter of national agricultural output and operate over half of the nation's farmland. Financial hardship among small producers is prevalent in research, yet there are few published studies that explicitly address them as the population of focus, and none in Texas. This project will assess the needs of small producers in Texas through participatory, mixed methods research. The graduate student will conduct a statewide survey and four focus groups throughout the state of Texas. This project directly addresses the profitability and quality of life of farmers and ranchers in Texas, creating deliverables which advance sustainable agriculture in the state. The ultimate goals of the project are to determine gaps in educational programming, financial servicing, and/or policy implementation needed to bolster a critical yet disappearing sector of the agricultural economy.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Engage stakeholders in project design.
- Identify the predominant challenges faced by small producers in Texas.
- Understand how small producers in Texas perceive challenges, solutions, and success.
- Share project findings with stakeholders.
- Share project results with the academic community.
- Inspire continued research of small, sustainable producers in the Southern U.S.