Crop and farm diversification provide social benefits
Gary W. Johnston, San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension
Franz R. Kegel, San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension
Melissa Cadet, Sacramento YWCA
California Agriculture 49(1):10-16. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v049n01p10.
Agronomic and economic benefits of diversification have been well documented, but social benefits are less well known. Two recent California studies show that diversity of crops and farm enterprises creates year-round or extended season employment for farmworkers. Additional strategies for doing so are paced work, selective mechanization, new technologies, break-even crops and coordinating work with other farmers or local industries. Workers employed on a year-round basis or for a longer season have higher incomes, more employer-paid benefits and can provide a better standard of living for their families than their seasonal counterparts. Farmers have found many benefits from a year-round or extended employment system. Some of these are increased worker availability, increased productivity and dependability, less need for worker training and increased personal satisfaction.
G.W. Johnston is County Director and Farm Advisor Emeritus, respectively, San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension; S. Vaupel is Agricultural Economist and Attorney in Sacramento specializing in agriculture law; F.R. Kegel is County Director and Farm Advisor Emeritus, respectively, San Joaquin County Cooperative Extension; M.Cadet is Agricultural Economist and Acting Director of the Sacramento YWCA.
This study was supported in part by a grant from UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The authors wish to thank Personnel Management Farm Advisors Steve Sutter and Gregory Billikopf and Socorra Davila-Garcia of the EDD for assistance in the research project.
A handbook for farmers, How to Stabilize Your Farm Workforce (and Increase Profits, Productivity, and Personal Satisfaction), can be purchased from the UC Sustainable Agriculture and Research and Education Program in Davis. The complete report is available upon request from that office.