High energy prices, skyrocketing input costs and adverse weather conditions mean many farmers and ranchers are looking for creative ways to diversify their operations to provide alternative income.
For many producers, the economics of farming make diversification a necessity. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the market value of agricultural products sold, plus government payments, was less than $50,000 for nearly 78 percent of U.S. farmers and ranchers.
To supplement their farm incomes, some producers earn additional income by getting jobs off the farm. Unfortunately, in some areas of the state, like parts of West Texas, long distances between farms and businesses make that option impractical.
To overcome these challenges, some Texas farmers are exploring opportunities to offer tourist activities on their land, including fishing, hunting and birding. Many also are developing and selling seasonal or "new" crops like Christmas trees or lavender.
If you have some great ideas about diversifying your operation, but do not quite know where to begin, the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development division can help through our GO TEXAN Rural Community Program, which promotes agricultural diversification, small-town revitalization and rural tourism. Our staff of Regional Economic Development professionals across the state is available to serve you. Our regional map includes staff names and phone numbers.
For more information, visit TDA’s Web site at www.TexasAgriculture.gov and click on Economic Development, or call our Rural Assistance line at (877) 428-7848