1993 volume 25(7) pages 945 – 959

Cite as:
Evans N J, Ilbery B W, 1993, "The pluriactivity, part-time farming, and farm diversification debate" Environment and Planning A 25(7) 945 – 959

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The pluriactivity, part-time farming, and farm diversification debate

N J Evans, B W Ilbery

Received 14 July 1992; in revised form 10 December 1992

Abstract. The current restructuring of agriculture has resulted in many farm families adjusting their business activities as part of a survival or accumulation strategy. Considerable attention has been paid to the nonconventional methods farm businesses employ to raise income, being conceptualised variously as 'farm diversification', 'part-time farming' and 'pluriactivity'. These terms incorporate a complex multitude of possible options, the nature of which has led to significant differences in the interpretations of such concepts. In the first part of this paper the conceptual debate which is emerging in the literature is reviewed, with some advantages and disadvantages associated with each term highlighted. It is suggested that an analytical distinction between farm-centred diversification and off-farm employment, within the broader pluriactivity of farm households, can help to provide a focus for empirical work. To provide an illustrative example, some insights from the developing political economy of agriculture are drawn upon to investigate the extent to which farm family businesses with one major form of farm-centred diversification (farm-based accommodation) have further diversified the business. The final stage is to examine whether legal operators also hold any off-farm employment, with a consideration of both the nature of that employment and the relationship with business structure and accommodation type. The limitations of this approach are recognised, particularly the gender-bias implications, but it aids an initial exploration of relations between alternative farm-centred and off-farm activities of pluriactive farm businesses. Findings show that farm based accommodation does little to prevent operators going off the farm to find employment, with small-sized farm businesses particularly pressurised. Further research into specific options can contribute to an understanding of the dynamics of households engaged in pluriactive strategies.

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