To better understand the social context of food and fiber production, more and more researchers are beginning to study the production of agricultural commodities as independent, dependent, and intervening variables. Typically, these commodity variables are measured in terms of separate crop or livestock products or by ad hoc indexes that summarize several commodities. To assess and better understand the spectrum of farm commodities examined in such research, this study uses North Carolina data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture to factor analyze various indicators of crop and livestock production and to determine any underlying, empirical dimensions. Explanations of the empirical combinations involve ecological relationships, biotechnical and geographic patterns, and agricultural coincidence. These dimensions offer a basis for improved measurement and indexing of commodity production as well as a basis for analyzing related variables such as siting agribusinesses and services, or studying impacts on social well-being in farm areas.

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