Farm pluriactivity and rural policy: some evidence from Wales

Bateman, D.; Ray, C.

Journal of Rural Studies 10(1): 1-13


ISSN/ISBN: 0743-0167
DOI: 10.1016/0743-0167(94)90002-7
Accession: 002380714

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Drawing on data from 427 interviews in Wales, U.K., this paper examines the ability of internal and external variables to explain the phenomenon of pluriactivity in firm households. It is the household as a unit, and the process of maintaining its viability, that forms the focus of the study, with pluriactivity being defined as the generation of income additional to that from primary agriculture, by any member of the household. The survey revealed that, whilst primary agriculture retains its position as the main income, only a minority of households did not have a supplemental source of income. Indeed, these 'other sources' can be financially very important. Off-farm work was the most significant type. A degree of differentiation was apparent between farmer, spouse and other family members and the type of income-generating activity. Internal variables (particularly physical farm size, farm type, education and ethnicity) are shown to have some statistical ability to explain the patterns of pluriactivity. Pluriactivity is of interest in the present environment of agricultural policy reform. However, there is some evidence that pluriactivity is not driven solely by financial pressure or policy measures aimed at farm diversification. The paper concludes that policy aimed at the diversification of the farm business may be less than successful as many internal and external factors appear to work to restrict such activities. Most of the contemporary growth in pluriactivity has been in the form of off-farm jobs -- a policy sector presently divorced from farm/agricultural policy.