Rural Livelihoods and Agroforestry Practices in the Missouri Flood Plains
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Agroforestry practices, new to many small farms in the United States, may offer many economic and environmental benefits. Small farmers in Northeast and Southeast Missouri were interviewed to understand the relationship between their knowledge and interest in agroforestry practices and their livelihood strategies. Different income diversification strategies were found. The Southeast, with richer cropland, has a more diversified crop portfolio. In the Northeast, crop livestock production systems and part-time farming prevail, reflecting a rural lifestyle option where some household members engage in off-farm activities. Given differences in production systems and income from agriculture, the study finds that those interviewed have some knowledge and interest in agroforestry practices. Windbreaks and riparian buffers ranked highest in knowledge and interest in the Southeast, where household strategies focus on commercial crops and there is concern for the environment. Windbreaks and forest farming were first in the Northeast, where farm households are concerned about the environment, future generations, and new economic opportunities. This finding coincides with perceptions of the importance of trees to the environment, future generations, and economic benefits.