"One aspect of community change, which actually started during the Second World War but persisted was the proportion of families where someone worked off farm, being full time farmers. During the war, it was emergency need. But it was through the 50s and 60s, it became, in a sense, standard practice, or happened more and more frequently. And it's – So there was less social interaction at the community level because families were busier with, in most instances, two jobs, sometimes three jobs. That is the farming and both people working off the farm part of the time. So that seems to me that the 50s and 60s was the era in which that became a permanent kind of change."
     Question: "Can farms make it now without a second income? Can farmers make it now?"
     "The scale of, the necessary scale, of course, keeps creeping upward. But there are – I can think of a number of farm families in our community who are doing really quite well. In some instances, the spouse is not working, [and] puts some time into the farming operation. In others, the spouse is working off farm, but it's not a matter of necessity. And two or three I think of in that category are doing quite well financially. Second or third generation maybe but – So I think what I see in the community is consistent with the nationwide statistics that farmers are no longer a poor segment of society. And it's both phenomenons. Phenomenon of the spouse working off the farm and the increasing scale."
     Question: "Is increasing scale by itself bad?"
     "I don't think so, within limits. I mean it's – when you put a motor on the plow much of what followed is inevitable. It takes less fuel to do an acre with a big machine than it does with a small machine. And you can spread your labor cost to the point almost of insignificance. The part that is disturbing for me is that intentionally and unintentionally we have subsidized the move towards scale. And I don't see any sociological excuse for that. I think that's – to have promoted this was to the detriment of rural communities."

Don Reeves – Off Farm Income


Other Excerpts from Don Reeves’ Interview:

Conscientious Objection
Raising Kids for Export
Overusing Fertilizer
Green Rev. Legacy
Organic Farming
Silent Spring
Farming for the Gov't
Food for Peace
Lobbying for Farmers