Enterprise Budgets for Mixed Speices and Cropping Systems
Profitability for ranch operations in west central Texas, like most operations throughout the world, is subject to environmental and market variability. However, west central Texas, being a savanna-like transition zone, is especially sensitive to the year-to-year differences in temperature and rainfall. Excessive temperatures and limited rainfall, in average years, merely constrain regional forge compositions; however, in exceptional years relative proportions of grasses, forbs, and browse can vary greatly. Thus many ranching operations in this region have adopted a multiple-enterprise approach to remain profitable. Traditional multiple-enterprise systems include a combination of cropping and ranching activities; however, many operations in west central Texas may include traditional crops, wind power generation, land leasing (for hunting), agritourism, and multiple species ranching.
The focus of this research is to determine those multiple enterprises that, will in concert, lead to more profit given the environmental constraints of west central Texas.
Vast tracks of land and plentiful wildlife makes west central Texas a prime region for agritourism. Today’s definition of agritourism usually conjures images of trips to the vineyard, dairy, or local garden spot – a chance for consumers to see and experience how their food is grown. However, agritourism, at its core, is any endeavor that brings visitors to the farm or ranch. Thus in west central Texas, a large component of agritourism is leasing land for hunting, brokering leases, wildlife preserves, and natural areas that coexist with the present farm or ranch operation.
With the decline in arable land in most parts of the United States, it is highly important to keep as much agricultural areas in production to maintain food prices. However, many farm and ranch operations struggle to remain in business with variances in the market. Agritourism allows land owners to participate in crop and livestock ventures while earning extra money from under used portions of land.
Urban and Rural Agricultural Development
Agribusiness not only concerns itself with agriculture on the production side, but also the consumption of agricultural products. Many small businesses in west central Texas have a direct tie with the agriculture of this region, especially small local businesses. This branch of research focuses on both urban and rural development projects to improve the product richness and revenue of the region.
It has long been considered that a healthy diet is an expensive diet. In fact, recent television and radio advertisements for a large grocery chain claim cheaper prices for healthier food choices. Advertisements of this nature capitalize on a prevalent narrative that health choices are more expensive. Is this actually true? Do foods considered being healthy, healthy as defined by actual caloric and nutrient scales, actually cost more? Recent studies conducted by the USDA shows that health foods are not any more expensive than unhealthy (highly processed) foods. Given that these studies are true, healthy and expense must be related by perception.
The goal of this research is to answer primary questions related to the perception. To uncover the depth of this perception we investigate the following questions: (1) can people determine the healthiness of foods they buy, (2) can people determine cost differences in their food choices, (3) how, as a whole, do people relate health and cost, and (4) does this match reality. Answering these questions will provide a working metric to then branch into generational, social, and economic differences that might influence perception.