Helping to Overcome Barriers to Latino Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Despite the booming increase of Hispanics and Latinos in Nebraska, a strange phenomenon occurred between 2002 and 2007. A significant number of farmers and ranchers with Hispanic and Latino origins fled the agricultural sector.

We asked ourselves: Why has Nebraska been unable to integrate this new generation of Hispanics and Latinos into the agricultural sector as stakeholders? After all, they had been migrating to and settling in the state since the 1980’s.

Our work with beginning farmers had led us to expect that, as the influx of New Americans came, we would see an increased number of new farmers coming from that population. Especially from Hispanic and Latino populations.

But the 2007 US Census of Agriculture showed a significant decrease in the numbers of Hispanic and Latino farmers in the state – down by half. Coincidentally the numbers of new farmers from this population in Kansas almost doubled.

We decided to find this group of farmers in Nebraska and connect them to resources that would help them succeed in their farm or ranch business. Our report on the project led to a great documentary by Nebraska Educational Television, Hispanic Farmers on Broken Ground. It occurred as a direct result of our work.

The preliminary Ag Census of 2012 shows that all categories of minority-operated farms increased in the United States between 2007 and 2012. Hispanic-operated farms had a significant 21% increase. The data for Nebraska looks good as well, with the number of Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino farms increasing (almost doubling, in fact) along with the amount of farmland and the use of federal conservation programs.