Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Shoshanah Inwood


The rural-urban interface (RUI) is a complex landscape impacted by a variety of social and economic processes. Substantial U.S. agricultural production occurs at the RUI despite non-farm development pressure. Notably, at a time when U.S. farming is increasingly dominated by a shrinking number of large scale operations, RUI agricultural production occurs primarily on small and medium farms. Importantly, RUI farms exhibit greater diversity in terms of operator demographics, production type, and marketing channels, than their large-scale counterparts.

A critical resource in the persistence of diverse RUI farms is Technical Assistance (TA). While TA is provided by a number of different institutional actors, the focus here is restricted to the Extension Service, United States Department of Agriculture backed Natural Resource Conservation Service and Soil and Water Conservation District programs, and nonprofit sector organizations whose mission is focused on supporting U.S. agriculture. Through an analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected as part of a multi-state study, the goal of this work is twofold. In the first place, this work seeks to assess the utilization of the different sources of TA by farmers operating at the RUI. Subsequently, the work investigates the resulting attitudes farmers hold about the TA they use. As such, this analysis is intended to examine how TA contributes to the persistence of the diverse agriculture operating at the RUI and to explore possible ways in which these critical resources can be further enhanced in order to support RUI farms and farmers.



Number of Pages

142 p.