• FARMING IN THE ALASKAN RAILBELT: 1952

      Andrews, Richard (Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, 1953-10)
      Over half of the farmers in the Railbelt area of Alaska located on their farms after World War II, Farming on the current scale is so new that it is in a constant state of flux. Changes frequently occur in farm practices and in farm ownership. Shortage of cropland and inadequate buildings place a temporary ceiling on expansion of major lines of farming in all agricultural areas. Liberal amounts of credit must become available for continuation of the rapid expansion experienced in the past. The major reason why various kinds of agricultural enterprises developed as they have in leading agricultural areas can be found in the history of agricultural settlement. The Matanuska Valley provided nearly half of the agricultural production in Alaska in 1952, More families were engaged in farming in this valley than in any other area in Alaska. Milk sales topped all others as a source of income and more full-time farmers had dairies than any other enterprise. Potatoes were second in importance with numerous part-time farmers growing varying acreages. Poultry and vegetable production both follow a similar pattern of numerous small producers and only a few specialized farms. The Tanana Valley was the second most important agricultural area in 1952, Most farmers relied on potatoes for their major source of farm income. Vegetables were grown as a minor enterprise on several farms. Few flocks of hens were found., Although interest in dairy farming has been strong in this area, only 3 farms produced milk in surplus quantities in 1952* Of these 3 farms, one was a public institution, one was exceptionally large,, and one was exceptionally s^iall. Lack of housing and domestic water have deterred both dairy and poultry farming,, Compared to the above areas, agricultural development on the Kenai Peninsula has been slow. Farmers have been greatly handicapped by lack of a source of borrowed capital and by distance from a si2able market. Livestock and poultry are the major enterprises. Even though 12 of the 19 farmers interviewed grew potatoes, acreages usually were small. Vegetable production is not great because most of the produce is sold locally and not much produce is demanded by this market. Shortages of equipment necessitate a great deal of hand work.