Promoting the well-being of  our communities and families

Research to keep our communities strong


Assessing Farm Labor Use and Off-Farm Employment by Small Tennessee Farmers

Income Risk, Financial Constraints, and Diversification Strategies for Small Farm Households

American Wine Drinkers’ Willingness to Pay for Origin Appellation and Ecolabels

Training Needs in Farm Management and Risk Essentials for Small, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers


 Assessing Farm Labor Use and Off-Farm Employment by Small Tennessee Farmers 
Dr. Fisseha Tegegne
The goal of this project is to contribute to knowledge on the subjects of farm labor use and off-farm employment by small Tennessee farmers. The objectives of the project are: 1) to characterize current labor use by small Tennessee farmers, 2) to examine the degree of off farm employment by small farmers and factors influencing their decision to seek such jobs and 3) to develop publications and disseminate findings of the project to stakeholders including other farmers, researchers, extension agents and policy makers. A comprehensive review of relevant literature will be undertaken and a mail survey will be used to collect primary data from farmers through the Tennessee Agricultural Statistical Service. The data collection will include the extent of the farmers' participation in off farm employment, characteristics of the farmers and that of their operations. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used to analyze the data. Findings from the project will be disseminated to various stakeholders at local, state, regional and national forums. The project will also generate refereed and non-refereed publications that will be made widely available.

Income Risk, Financial Constraints, and Diversification Strategies for Small Farm Households
Dr. Aditya Khanal
The number of farms in the United States have been declining even though the value of their crops and livestock production has  increased over the last several decades. In 2012, out of 2.1 million farms, a large majority (around 90 percent) were small farms  with gross annual sales of less than $350,000. However, fewer large farms produce the greater share of total agricultural  products. Larger farms have competitive advantages over smaller farms in specialized commodity production, reflecting  economies of scale in farming while small farms have tremendous challenges even to survive and continue their business through traditional commodity production route. Since small farms may not compete with  large farms in specialized commodity production, small farms need to diversify their production, income sources, and marketing  strategies. In other words, small farms need alternative strategies for earning additional income besides farming and also need  to adopt appropriate methods in production, technology adoption and marketing of products produced. Survival and continuation  of small farm businesses is important for the prosperity of rural farming communities because these businesses are purchasers  and suppliers of agricultural goods and services and important contributors to rural economies and US agriculture.  The survival and continuation of small farms is even more important in Tennessee because Tennessee's agriculture is characterized by a vast majority of the small farms. Small farms need to find alternative enterprises to survive, remain viable, and continue their farm business by utilizing their resources in best possible way and by managing strategically. Therefore, the issues of income risk, financial stress, and different means of survival strategies for small farm households are important research agenda. However, the quantitative research and analysis about participation decision in diversification activities, factors influencing such decisions and analysis of the impact of the participation in diversification activities have been scant.  This project will assess income risks and the role of diversification strategies among small farms in Tennessee and across the United States. Particularly, the research will address the role of household's economic decision making in diversification strategies on the farm and household incomes. The project will use both primary and secondary data and different set of econometric and statistical methods to analyze the problem and to achieve objectives. To analyse national-level scenario, information collected through Agricultural Resources Management Survey (ARMS) by United States Department of Agriculture  (USDA) will be used. To investigate the problem specific to Tennessee, a primary data will be collected from randomly selected  farmers in Tennessee and analyze characteristics and practices used by farm households.  Standard econometric and statistical methods will be used to establish the relationship between variables and to estimate the  model. Plotting the data, formal econometric tests, and the nature of dependent variable determine the appropriate econometric procedure and functional form to estimate the model. When the farmers have multiple strategies and choices to diversify, specialize, or undertake specific diversification decision, multinomial and multivariate models enable us to understand the economics of decision as it relates to economic, social, and demographic characters. This study will assess the status and  characteristics of small farms, their survival strategies, practices used, and diversification decisions. It will also assess the impact of participation in diversification strategy or a combination of strategies on total farm income, gross sales, profitability and  household income. The results of the study will help fill void in the knowledge gap by better understanding income risks and the  role of diversification strategies on small farm business households. The outcome is expected to benefit farmers as well as researchers undertaking further research and development activities in rural areas. 

American Wine Drinkers’ Willingness to Pay for Origin Appellation and Ecolabels
Dr. Kar Lim
Tennessee wine industry sprouts following the annihilation brought by the Prohibition in early 20th century. For the state that  was once believed to be unsuitable for other agricultural uses but grape growing, its fledgling wine producers face competition  from bigger and better established wineries. While the number of wineries in Tennessee has been steadily increasing to over  fifty, the utilization of origin appellation in the form of American Viticultural Area (AVA) certification remains low. Tennessee's  only AVA is shared with neighboring Mississippi. The Mississippi Delta AVA covers only a small portion of Tennessee wine. AVAs might provide wine producers in the state with the competitive advantage. As the application of AVA  widens, it rise the question: will the adoption of AVA could benefit Tennessean winery? This study investigate the effect of AVA  on consumers' willingness to pay.  This study uses an online choice experiment to elicit consumer preference of AVA label. In the choice experiment, consumers  will be asked to choose from sets of given choice, the wine that reflects the most desirable attributes and price they wish. These  data will be analyzed with ecometric methods, through this, consumers' willingness to pay for AVA will be estimated. The  willingness to pay figures will be used to inform wine makers in Tennessee and other related agribusiness whether the adoption of AVA will increase their profit. 

Training Needs in Farm Management and Risk Essentials for Small, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
Dr. Hiren Bhavsar









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