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An economic investigation of part-time farmingin the Fraser Valley of British Columbia Strong, Michael

Abstract

This study examines the economic and social aspects of part-time farming in two municipalities in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia. The study was undertaken in 1970 under the auspices of the British Columbia Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of British Columbia. The primary purpose of the study was to provide descriptive information about part-time farmers and to provide some framework within which policy decisions could be made. The study examines the physical characteristics of the part-time farm, the socio-economic characteristics of the part-time farm operator and his family, and the financial aspects of part-time farming. Some analysis is undertaken with respect to the findings of the survey and, where possible, these are related to census data for comparison between part-time farms and all census farms for the same area. The main conclusions drawn from these analyses were that part-time farmers were only distinguishable from the census population farmers on the basis of direct financial aspects of their farms. This was reflected in the much lower levels of farm sales and expenses experienced by part-time farmers. Several characteristics of both census farms and part-time farms were significantly different between the two municipalities. There were strong indications that neither of the two groups are homogeneous between regions. Consequently, it is difficult to envisage a single definition of farming, much less part-time farming, being formulated which will have application in such a diversified agricultural mosaic as is found in British Columbia. The study concludes by questioning the validity of a policy which segments the farm community on the basis of the farm operator having an off-farm job. The study suggests that the only meaningful indicator as to whether or not farm land resources are being effectively utilized is productivity as measured by the usual economic criteria of gross and net dollar receipts.

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