Rural development programmes may facilitate the off-farm employment of low-income farm families and provide additional public suppon beyond traditional US farm income and price support programmes. To examine the implications of alternative rural development strategies for low-income farmers, joint off-farm labour participation models are developed for farm operators and spouses. Univariate and bivariate probit models are estimated. based on 1985 Current Population Survey farm household data. The bivariate model is applied to data on 240 farm families that qualify as low-income families. Study results indicate that age, education, number of young children, and location represent constraints to participation among differentiable segments of the low-income farm population. The implications of these results for the formulatioo of rural development programmes to aid farm families are examined.