Economic Research Report No. (ERR-134) 48 pp

May 2012

Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives

Since 2002, USDA's Rural Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee program has increased its emphasis on farm-related business activities associated with renewable energy, local/regional food, and value-added agriculture. Other new programs and program modifications also have focused on these and other farm activities and related industries, including the use of farm and ranch natural resources. This trend represents a relatively new direction for USDA's Rural Development programs, which have historically focused on nonfarm-related business. This report improves our understanding of the farm and farmer characteristics that may influence farm operator involvement in development-related activities, specifically by focusing on five farm activities: organic farming, value-added agriculture, direct marketing, agritourism, and energy/electricity production. The findings are based on descriptive data from USDA's 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and estimates from logit models used to identify statistically significant factors associated with involvement in certain farm activities.

Keywords: Rural development, regional foods, local foods, direct marketing, organic farming, agritourism, value-added agriculture, renewable energy, electricity

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