Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The increasing productivity per farm worker resulting from technological advances in agriculture suggests the problem to be examined: the extent of underutilization of South Dakota farm family labor resources and the implications arising from this situation. Changes in the agribusiness structure of rural areas and the consequences of the prevailing population movement away from farms and rural communities will be examined in relation to likely future trends. Feasible alternatives for farm operators and for community development planning groups will be discussed. Present and proposed national agricultural policies will be examined as they apply to the problem and as they are likely to influence alternatives. The objectives of this study are to examine the following conditions: (1) the level of effective utilization of farm family labor resources in Southeastern South Dakota; (2) the equilibrium level of farm numbers in the region under specified assumptions of varying levels of specialization and mechanization; (3) the potential movement out of agriculture in the region under conditions of increasing levels of efficiency, and the effects of population losses on rural nonfarm communities; (4) the influence of labor inputs, and farm sizes in acres, upon gross farm profit; (5) alternatives for farm families to supplement and/or increase farm incomes; (6) alternatives for rural communities to retain population and/or adjust to prevailing trends; and (7) available farm family labor resources, not utilized in agriculture, as a potential production resource for local and regional industrial development programs. The primary objective of this study was to determine the degree of underemployment on South Dakota farms as a consequence of technological advances. An analysis of labor resources and labor requirements on three hundred and thirty one farms sampled in Southeastern South Dakota indicated that a considerable amount of available farm family labor resources are not fully utilized in agriculture. It appeared that with moderately higher levels of efficiency in agriculture and larger farms, the amount of non-utilized farm family labor would be even more extensive.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Underemployment -- South Dakota
Agricultural labors -- South Dakota -- Supply and demand


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University