The Center for Rural Affairs has released a report examining the barriers, challenges and limitations Hispanic and Latino farmers and ranchers face in their farming operations along with their relationships with USDA. Center for Rural Affairs Outreach Coordinator Rafael Martinez says the primary purpose of the project was to reach out to Latino farmers and ranchers to learn from them. Martinez says a significant number of farmers and ranchers of Latino origins fled the agriculture sector in Nebraska, so another goal of the project was to figure out why Nebraska and Missouri have been unable to integrate the new generation of Latinos into the farm and ranch sector as stakeholders.
For the project, 17 producers in eight Nebraska counties were contacted and interviewed about how they operate their farm or ranch and about their relationship with organizations providing services to improve their operations. The Center for Rural Affairs identified some key factors to understanding the barriers and challenges Latino farmers face in beginning, developing and sustaining their operations. Some of those factors include limited access to land, limited economic resilience, lack of knowledge and understanding of USDA programs and misconceptions of those programs.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA and Obama Administration are committed to creating opportunities for Americans from all backgrounds. Vilsack says grants through USDA's Outreach Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program help ensure minority landowners have access to a full range of USDA programs. He says it also helps them increase their profitability and stay on the farm.
The Center for Rural Affairs partnered with the University of Missouri-Columbia's Cambio Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Latino Research Initiative and University of Missouri Extension's Alianzas program. Martinez says the partners hope to learn more about the challenges Latino farmers and ranchers encounter when they try to access various USDA programs.