This is the second Footnote celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). Today we will learn more about our Hispanic Farm Producers. The USDA identifies a Hispanic Farm Producer as one who produces agricultural commodities on land he/she owns or rents.
This is not to be confused with Hispanic hired labor who work in agriculture nor is it be confused with Hispanics who own or work in Agribusiness. Basically, we are talking about Hispanic farmers with the full realization that agriculture is much more than farming.
This Footnote is in the form of a quiz. I will pose a question, you will select an answer, then there will be a short discussion about the correct answer. The items on the quiz were gleaned from the 2017 Agricultural Census fact sheet titled Hispanic Producers. Ready-Set-Go!
1. What percent of farm producers in America identify as Hispanic or Latino?
A. Less than five percent
B. Six to ten percent
C. Eleven to fifteen percent
D. Fifteen to twenty percent
Hispanic farm producers are the second largest group of farm producers in the United States. In 2017, the United States had 112,451 producers who identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, accounting for 3.3 percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers. So, the correct answer to 1 is A. Hispanic farm producers farmed 32 million acres and had $21.8 billion in agricultural sales.
2. What percent of Hispanic farm producers are female?
Would you believe that 35 percent of Hispanic farm producers are female? This should come as no surprise since we have witnessed a steady increase in female participation in agriculture for decades. Thirty-six percent of all farm producers in the U.S. are female, so this number is in line with that figure. The correct answer is C.
3. When compared to all farm producers Hispanic farm producers are
Hispanic farm producers are younger on average than U.S. producers overall (55 years compared with 57.5 in 2017). When we break down the population by age category 34% of all U.S. farm producers are 65 years and older. However, only 26% of Hispanic farm producers are in this age category. In the 35-64 age category we find 65% of the Hispanic farm producers compared to 58% of all U.S. farm producers. The correct answer is B.
4. Which state has the most Hispanic farm producers?
B. New Mexico
Texas has the most Hispanic farm producers with 41,143; so A is the correct answer. Following is the list of the top 12 states based on the total number of farm producers identifying as Hispanic:
- Texas – 41,143
- California – 14,597
- New Mexico – 12,212
- Florida – 7,121
- Colorado – 3,765
- Washington – 2,947
- Oklahoma – 2,621
- Oregon – 2,083
- Arizona – 1,482
- Missouri – 1,407
- Idaho – 1,258
- Kansas – 1,253
5. Which state has the highest percentage of Hispanic farm producers?
B. New Mexico
Texas has six counties with 80 percent or more of farms being Hispanic operated: Starr (96 percent), Zapata (94 percent), Brooks (88 percent), Jim Hogg (84 percent), Duval (81 percent), and Webb (80 percent). However, when you compare the total number of Hispanic farm producers in a state with the total number of farm producers Texas places 3rd with 10%. California has 12% of the producers identifying as Hispanics. New Mexico has the highest percentage with 30%. B is the correct answer.
6. Which agricultural commodity is most likely to be grown/raised by Hispanic farm producers?
A. Cotton and Grain
B. Cattle and Dairy
C. Vegetable, Nursery and Nut Crops
D. Goats and Sheep
Drum roll please! The correct answer is B. Following is the percent of Hispanic farm operation specializations:
- Oilseeds and grains 4%
- Specialty crops 21 %
o Vegetables and melons 3%
o Fruits, tree nuts, berries 14%
o Greenhouse, nursery, floriculture 4%
Other crops 15%
- Cattle and dairy 36%
- Sheep and goats 9%
- Other animals 15%
7. The acreage farmed by Hispanic farm producers tends to be:
A. Smaller in size than that of all U. S. farm producers
B. About the same in size as that of all U. S. farm producers
C. Larger in size than that of all U. S. farm producers
Hispanic-operated farms accounted for 32 million acres of farmland, 3.6 percent of the U.S. total. The majority (61 percent) of these farms were less than 50 acres in size. The average size of Hispanic-operated farms was 372 acres. See Table 1 for a breakdown of farm sizes.
Table 1. Hispanic Farm Sizes
(% of total)
(% of total)
|1 to 9||26||13|
|10 to 49||35||29|
|50 to 179||20||28|
|180 to 499||10||15|
More than three-fourths (78 percent) of Hispanic-operated farms were operated by farmers who own all the land they farm, 7 percent by farmers who rent all the land
8. Compared to all farm producers in the US, Hispanic farm producers are more likely to
A. Be organic farmers
B. Be engaged in other work in addition to farming
C. Grow specialty crops
D. Be military veterans.
Twenty-one percent of Hispanic-operated farms specialized in the production of specialty crops, compared with 9 percent of all U.S. farms. So, the correct answer is C. The percentage of farmers who work 200+ days off the farm each year is 41% for Hispanic farmers and 40% for all U.S. farmers. Eleven percent of both groups have served in the military. I have no data for answer A. What do you think?
9. What percent of Hispanic-owned farms have Internet?
The majority of Hispanic farm producers (70%) have Internet. The correct answer is D. This compares with 73% for all farms in the U.S.
10. What percent of FFA members identify as Hispanic or Latino?
A. About 5%
B. About 10%
C. About 15%
D. About 20%
In 2018-19, Hispanic members made up 14.8 percent of the National FFA Organization. So, C is the correct answer. It is possible that more Hispanic students were enrolled in agricultural classes but might not have been members of the FFA. Nationally, 18.5 percent of the population identifies as Latino or Hispanic. This number has been increasing. What are the implications? You decide.
Conventional thinking offers and popular media commonly references the notion that Latinos generally dislike working in agriculture, do so because of lack of alternative opportunity and would prefer employment in other sectors.
The statement above is the opening sentence in a journal article titled “Latino Views of Agriculture, Careers and Education: Dispelling the Myths” (Mullinix, Garcia, Lewis-Lorentz, Qazi, 2006). The article describes a survey of 475 Latinos in Washington State. The authors’ state (p. 2) that those surveyed “…have a very positive view of agriculture work, perceive opportunity for personal and professional advancement in agriculture and that they will encourage their children to pursue agricultural careers.”
We know that agriculture is much more than owning/operating a farm. An agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky estimates there are 1.18 million hired workers on farms and 51% of these are Hispanic (Isaacs, 2020). In addition to farm work or owning a farm, there is a myriad of opportunities for Hispanics in the world of agribusiness and related fields. Agricultural and extension educators need to be cognizant of these facts and actively promote agricultural education to the Hispanic population.
Mullinix and his co-authors end their article with this admonition (2006, p. 10):
It is critical that the agriculture sector and those institutions having accepted the charge of educationally preparing agriculture professionals understand the actual commitment of Latino agriculturists to agriculture. Undeniably, Latinos are a significant pool from which future agriculturists should and could be nurtured. The means and mechanisms to do so must be pursued through research and creatively applied educational programming. The future nature of our nation’s agriculture system and rural communities may very well depend upon it.
Issacs, Steve (2020). Hired Farm Labor and the Roles of Hispanic Workers. University of Kentucky. https://agecon.ca.uky.edu/hired-farm-labor-and-the-role-of-hispanic-workers.
Kent Mullinix, Leonardo Garcia, Alexandra Lewis-Lorentz and Joan Qazi. Latino Views of Agriculture, Careers and Education: Dispelling the Myths. NACTA Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 (June 2006), pp. 2-11 (10 pages).
United State Department of Agriculture (2019). Hispanic Producers. https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights/2019/2017Census_Hispanic_Producers.pdf