Farm Adaptation at the Rural-Urban Interface
Keywords:Census of Agriculture, Farm Adaptation, Farmer Diversity, Metro Counties, Rural-Urban Interface
AbstractDespite population growth and development at the rural-urban interface (RUI), agriculture continues to persist there. This resilience is partially a reflection of land use policies and market support programs designed to protect farm and ranch land that is vulnerable to nonfarm development. Studies examining the RUI primarily focus on the diversity of production and markets and do not discuss the diversity of operators. As the farmland protection and food systems movements continue to refine policy objectives and decide how to allocate scarce resources, it is critical to have up-to-date statistics on the health and vitality of agriculture at the RUI. Using the 2007 Census of Agriculture statistics, we examine (1) the spatial distribution by county of high-value production and marketing practices assumed to play a role in the persistence and vitality of agriculture at the RUI; and (2) the demographic characteristics of farmers in these counties. We find that only some types of high-value production and marketing systems are more prevalent in metropolitan regions, includinghorses, nursery-greenhouse, and direct sales, while organic production, recreation sales, CSA farms, and value-added farms are more likely to be concentrated in nonmetropolitan counties. We also find that farmers at the RUI are extremely diverse and that a substantial number of beginning and women farmers are found in nonmetropolitan counties, along with a small but notable number of African American, Hispanic and Native American farmers.
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