Recent studies by
“Our findings suggest there is a modest favorable effect of large-scale agriculture on quality of life in the 99
Sapp conducted the studies with Daniel Sundblad, a graduate student who completed his doctorate at
The studies were funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Research Initiative, with a goal of seeking a better understanding of key factors affecting the viability of small towns in
For several decades, rural sociologists around the country have been studying relationships between agricultural scale and community quality of life.
“The generally favorable association of larger agricultural scale and community quality of life has tended to occur mainly in the
Sapp said quality of life was defined from residents’ impressions of government services (such as police and fire protection, street and park maintenance and garbage collection) and community services (such as medical care, schools, shopping, recreation and entertainment options, child care, senior citizen programs and youth programs).
It also included participation in local clubs and organizations and ratings of neighborliness. Quality of life also included socioeconomic data within each county, such as income, percentage of population living in poverty, crime rates, infant mortality rates, unemployment rates and gaps between rich and poor.
One town in each of
The researchers looked at changes in the 99 small towns across the decade from 1994 to 2004, using county-level data and local surveys. “In that 10-year period, for the most part incomes rose, poverty rates declined, crime rates declined, infant mortality declined, unemployment declined and gaps between rich and poor closed in association with increases in the scale of agriculture in their county,” Sapp said.