Management of Small Rural Holdings as Economic and Ecological Units
The project will produce a research agenda concerning small land holdings from a joint environmental-economic perspective. Through regional meetings, landholders, resource and economic planners, and environmental groups will discuss economic, resource and ecological problems faced by the landholders in order to identify a relevant agenda for future research. The geographic focus of the project will be the panhandle counties of Florida, the Georgia-Florida border counties and central Florida counties. Together, these counties represent the Southern Coastal Plain. The region also shares a water resource that is important to the ecological and economic activities of the region. To date, little information has been available to small landholders concerning the management of property of 5-50 acres as economic and ecological units. The information that is gathered in the regional meetings addressing the concerns of those who seek to manage resource use on a regional or sub regional basis in conjunction with property owners will be valuable to both sets of parties. The result of the project will be a research agenda for small landholders and increased awareness and communication between the concerned groups, with the ultimate goal being improved conditions for small farmers and greater choices for consumers.
1.) Identify and evaluate key problems of small holders from the landholders’ point of view and that of those in the public and quasi public sector responsible for resource planning.
a) At this time three Florida meetings have been conducted. The Georgia meeting is being planned for January.
b) A final meeting is planned for late January to bring together the participants of the regional meetings to present the recommended research topics that will be included in the final report.
2.) Identify research issues for environmental conservation techniques suitable for the small landholder.
3.) Identify information requirements concerning potentially remunerative alternatives for small holders and catalogue and summarize at least 20 relative documents.
a) At this time the following alternatives have been developed:
i. Organic farming
ii. Farm direct marketing
iii. Forestry alternatives
iv. Alternative crops and livestock
v. Value-added agriculture
vi. Transfer of development rights
vii. Conservation easements
viii. Agricultural tourism
4.) Identify and evaluate economic and ecological opportunities and barriers for new and existing small farmers
a) At this time, three Florida meetings have been held. Some common concerns have been voiced at all three meetings. These include:
i. Regulatory issues such as taxes, information sources for regulations, outdated regulations, how regulations affect competitiveness of Florida farmers compared to other neighboring states.
ii. Marketing issues such as help in forming co-operatives, the possibility of community supported agriculture, alternative markets and marketing techniques, obstacles to marketing for the small producer, direct marketing, Internet use.
iii. Alternative production such as aquaculture, value-added, agritourism, niche marketing of specialty crops, and alternative crops.
5.) Prepare a document that will summarize the discussion and findings of the planning project.
Florida State University
University of Florida
Florida State University
University of Georgia