Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Spatial expressions of farm size changes in the Polk and Linn counties of Oregon Public Deposited

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  • The spatial organization of farm units in Polk and Linn counties in the mid-Willamette Valley has undergone significant change over the past 30 years. Whereas most study areas operations in the 1930's and 1940's consisted of small family owned farms with contiguous land bases, present mid-Willamette Valley units vary considerably in spatial organization, tenure patterns, and size. The purposes of this research are to determine the magnitude of farm size changes in the study area over the past 30 year; determine the spatial organization strategies underlying operator's choices of particular means of farm size changes; determine the means of farm size changes; assess the effects of farm size changes on the characteristics of agricultural land use in the study area; and determine the spatial characteristics of farm size changes. Approximately ten percent of the farmers in the study area (280) were interviewed concerning the spatial organization and evolution of their operations. Eight farms were selected for indepth case studies. The results of the farmer interviews were statistically treated by the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences program at Oregon State University. The results of farmer interviews indicate that full time commercial operators have steadily increased their land bases over the past 30 years. Interview data also reveal a large increase in the numbers of small part-time units and rural residences in the post World War II era. Renting and leasing of farm land is common in the study area, and as commercial farm operators continue to seek to enlarge the areal extent of their land, the competition for rental or lease land is increasing. There is also strong demand for suitable farm land by prospective buyers. Farmers have enlarged their land bases primarily because they believe they must if they are to achieve satisfactory economies of scale. The study suggests that this is the dominant effect. The need to enlarge the spatial component of their operations has forced many commercial farmers to purchase, rent, or lease land that is not joined to their headquarters. In some cases they must move equipment up to 25 miles to work their scattered parcels. Such farmers are well aware of the liabilities associated with farming non-contiguous land bases, but accept these problems in order to enlarge. The trends in agricultural land use in the study area are toward larger commercial units on the one hand and toward small part-time farm/rural residences on the other. The full-time commercial operators generally make effective use of their land base whereas, the part-time farmers are usually less concerned with maintaining optimal land use. The increasing numbers of rural residences and the increasing population of the study area lead to the conclusion that the mid-Willamette Valley is becoming an urbanized area with attending suburban sprawl, rural residences, small acreages, hobby or part-time farms, and relatively few large commercial farm units.
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