On-farm and Ranch Education of New and Beginning Latino Producers in Missouri

Final report for LNC15-368

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2015: $163,227.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Missouri
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Eleazar Gonzalez
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Problem addressed: It is widely known that conventional agricultural production methods combined with modern technologies that reduce labor time, increase food productivity and farm profits. This form of farming and ranching has become the method preferred by most producers. Eventually, any new and beginning producer entering the industry will naturally get involved in that production system.  However; research-based information has shown that where conventional agriculture is used for long periods of time, degradation of natural farm resources occurs as well as the sustainability of local rural communities. There is a large body of research that documents the secondary effects of using chemicals in agriculture, as noted by Boxall et. al. (2009), who argues that evidence for adverse effects from agricultural contaminants comes from epidemiology studies and toxicological assessments and their effects on natural resources and on humans will likely increase with climate change. In a recent assessment, published by FAO (2017), it is reported that there is a crisis of food insecurity mainly in developing countries where the under-nutrition continues to decline, however, levels of overweight people are increasing. It is argued that it is due to having unbalanced nutritional diets and increased consumption of carbohydrates. Contrary, agroecological and organic production systems have proven to make large contributions to the food supply. They also regenerate the soil, keep water clean and improve air quality as well as help revive local rural communities (FAO 2011; Jouzi Z. et. all 2017).

This program started with the assumptions that Latino farmers and ranchers in Missouri, like many other small and medium producers entering the agriculture industry are unaware of the food production systems that could help them to succeed in farming and ranching. Mainly, because they have low-levels of farming and ranching skills and knowledge of food production systems in the U.S. They also have weak connections with educational community resources because English is not their first language.

The program followed a research and educational approach to solve two specific problems. On the one hand, the program proposed to explore Latino producers’ understandings, skills and perceptions about sustainable farming and ranching production methods which led to documenting to what extent new and experienced Latino producers in Missouri are biased to following conventional production practices. On the other hand, the program proposed not only to enhance the Latino producers’ awareness and knowledge needed to protect the soil, water and other natural resources of their farms and ranches, but also to enhance their skills and knowledge of practicing sustainable production methods.

To pursue a solution to the problems above, the program documented the awareness, levels skills and knowledge of sustainable agriculture. Then, a draft curriculum program was proposed and used to enhance awareness, skills and knowledge of Latino producers about managing the natural resources and conducting sustainable agriculture.

Research Approach

In order to document research-based information that would allow us to know the levels of awareness, skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture and to what extent Latino producers are biased to following conventional farming, we used a mixed approach methodology based on qualitative and quantitative analysis.

In the first stage, we designed an interview guide and conducted four focus groups. An average of 7 participants were in each focus group with a total of 28 Latino producers involved. Qualitative data based on the conversation from focus groups was recorded in Spanish, then transcribed, and translated and entered into NVivo software. Data was coded to collect the Latino producers’ points of views, statements and comments about how they conducted their farming and ranching activities and what kind of barriers they might face to following sustainable production methods. Frequent answers and statements were analyzed and used in the design of a quantitative survey instrument. The structure of the survey was as follows:  the first section was design to collect the demographic profile of the producers and their motivations to pursue farming activities. A second section was designed to collect attitudes, skills, and knowledge about sustainable agriculture. A third section was designed to collect data on the agribusiness part of the farm such as their financial and marketing skills and knowledge. A fourth section was to collect data on their skills and knowledge of sustainable agriculture and livestock management; Lastly, and a fifth section was designed to collect data on sociocultural indicators including producer resilience to farming, acculturation, and social capital indicators.

The quantitative methodology was developed as follows:

  1. Face-to-face interviews of 100 Latino producers were conducted in the summer and fall of 2016.
  2. During the winter and spring of 2017, data was organized, coded and entered into SPSS software. Then, Data was gathered and organized in the software to be analyzed.
  • Data analysis helped to validate our assumption that new and experienced Latino producers in the agriculture industry are biased to following conventional production methods.
  1. The preliminary findings were presented at different venues such as at the Rural Sociological Society Meeting in the summers of 2017 and 2018. These presentations included an abstract. During the spring of 2018, at the conference, “OUR FARMS, OUR FUTURE –The Next 30 Years of Sustainable Agriculture,” a poster presentation was provided (poster attached in this report).
  2. In the summer of 2018, we replicated the survey interviews to those Latino producers interviewed in 2016, when possible. We faced many challenges to being able to interview the same producers that we did in 2016. Some of the issues were related to their moving to new locations, availability to meet at specific times, inability to find them when visiting their farms, and quitting farming activities.
  3. During the summer of 2018, we were able to interview 82 Latino producers. From this sample, we were able to interview 30 of the 46 producers who attended educational workshops during the winter of 2016 and spring of 2017. Twenty-four producers who were interviewed in year 1 did not attend any of the workshop sessions, but they were also interviewed in year 2. So, in 2018, we repeated our survey to a total of 54 producers previously interviewed in 2016. In 2018, we also added 28 more new producers who were never interviewed before.
  • Different data sets were created:
    1. Data set 1-2018. This data set combined a population of 128 Latino producers.
    2. Data set 2-2018. Data set of 82 producers. In this data set, the 30 producers who attended workshop sessions were coded and moved to a different data set to be analyzed.
    3. Data set 3-2018. This data set includes 30 producers who attended workshops in sustainable agriculture during the winter of 2016 and the spring 2017.
    4. Data set 4-2016. Data set of 100 producers. In this data set, the 30 producers who attended workshop sessions were coded and moved to a different data set to be analyzed.
    5. Data set 5-2016. This data set includes 30 producers who attended training in sustainable agriculture during the winter of 2016 and the spring 2017.

Educational Approach

The educational approach proposed in this program was to develop a teaching curriculum to meet the learning needs of Latino producers and other farmers with quite similar learning needs, such as other minority groups or new veteran farmers.

In the second year of the program, after we collected data from 100 survey interviews, we were able to draft a curriculum. We then used the draft to instruct a series of four in-class session workshops and four on-farm demonstrations. This helped the producers to start growing an awareness and to enhance their skill level and knowledge base of sustainable production methods.

 To instruct the drafted curriculum we used different strategies that encouraged and involved Latino producers to learn about sustainable agriculture production methods. We instructed them using educational sessions in workshops and panel discussions which allowed us to enrich the development of the curriculum. We also used on-farm and ranch demonstrations to help participants to enhance their understanding of sustainable and organic agriculture from expert practitioners.

A total of 46 Latino farmers and ranchers attended workshops and on-farm demonstration sessions. For more information, see previous programs reports LNC15-368.

 

Learning Outcomes. This program uses two sources to report on the enhancement of awareness, skills and knowledge of the attendees of the workshop sessions and farm demonstrations.

First Evaluation. This happened during the program workshop instruction sessions. We collected data to evaluate gains in knowledge after each session from 46 producers who attended the workshops. We used a survey to evaluate knowledge about specific sustainable production indicators before and after each session. The producers expressed their level of knowledge on 6 topics instructed at each workshop. A Likert scale was used under the following codes 1= Not at all, 2= Slightly, 3= Somewhat, 4=Fair well, and 5= Very well. We observed a significant change in knowledge about 6 sustainable practices. See table 1.

Table 1. Workshop Sessions Evaluation            
Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship Before      After  
  Mean Std. Deviation Variance Mean Std. Deviation Variance
Knowledge of a business plan 2.15 0.81 0.66 4.36 0.64 0.41
Managing assets and liabilities 2.04 0.89 0.79 4.26 0.61 0.37
Sustainable biological management 2.04 0.84 0.7 4.28 0.72 0.51
Pollinators and native plants 1.95 0.84 0.7 4.19 0.75 0.56
Soil management 2.17 0.9 0.81 4.39 0.61 0.38
Other conservation practices 2.23 0.89 0.8 4.36 0.71 0.5
n=46            

Results from evaluations based on data collected from the participants’ responses on the same day of the workshop are not the best indicators to make an assessment of awareness, skills and knowledge gained over the long term.

In order to obtain a better assessment about awareness, skill and knowledge gained over the long term, we used cross-sectional data collected 2 years apart.

This second evaluation was as follows: in year one of the program, we collected survey interviews from a sample of 100 Latino producers across Missouri to evaluate their awareness, skills and knowledge about sustainable production methods.

The demographic profile of Latino producers interviewed in year one of this program is summarized in table 2 below.

Table 2. Farming demographic profile and descriptive statistics of Latino Producers. Data set 2016. NCRSARE-LNC15-368.

Variables

Parameter

Number

Mean

Mode

Std. Deviation

Variance

Age/years

≤ 35                             

>=36≤ 55          

 ≥ 56         

16

53

31

2.15

2

.672

.452

Edu/years

≤ 6            

>=7≤ =9            

≥10          

73

10

17

1.22

 

1

 

.769

 

.592

 

Gender

Female       

Male         

2

98

1.98

2

.140

.020

Region/origin

México     

U.S.          

Central A. 

71

8

21

1.50

1

.822

.677

Farming/activity

Large livestock

Small livestock

Specialty crops

42

25

33

1.91

1

.769

.592

Farm size

≤ 10

>=11≤ =50

≥ 51

40

49

11

1.71

2

.655

.430

Ownership

Mortgage

Paid

Lease

40

46

14

1.74

2

.690

.477

Farming long

Years

≤ 10

>=11≤=15

≥ 16

73

11

16

1.43

1

.755

.571

% Income from farming

<=10

>=11<=30

>=31

73

22

5

1.32

1

.566

.321

Know sustainable

agriculture

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

23

3

74

2.51

3

.846

.717

Use of conventional

chemicals and

pesticides

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

45

25

30

1.85

1

.857

.735

n=100

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the goals of the program was to assess the awareness, skill, and knowledge gained over the long term. In year 3 of the program, we intended to repeat the survey to the same sample of farmers we interviewed in year one of the program. We faced several issues to finding the same Latino producers interviewed in year 1. Issues related to being unable to find them at their locations, moving to other locations, quitting farming activities and a limited time-frame in order to find them. We were able to find 82 producers. Fifty-four of them were producers interviewed in year 1. Thirty of them were producers who attended educational workshops during the winter of 2016 and the spring of 2017. We are using their responses to evaluate the long-term educational outcomes of this program.  Table 3 below summarizes the farming demographic profile and descriptive statistics of the Latino producers who were interviewed during the summer and fall of 2018.

Table 3. Farming demographic profile and descriptive statistics of Latino Producers. Data set 2018.  NCRSARE-LNC15-368.

Variables

Parameter

Number

Mean

Mode

Std. Deviation

Variance

Age/years

≤ =35                             

>=36≤ =55          

 ≥ 56         

10

43

29

2.23

2

.653

.427

Edu/years

≤ =6            

>=7≤= 9           

≥=10          

36

17

29

1.91

 

1

 

.891

 

.795

 

Gender

Female       

Male         

4

78

1.95

2

.216

.047

Region/origin

México     

U.S.          

Central A. 

65

2

15

1.39

1

.781

.611

Farming/activity

Large livestock

Small livestock

Specialty crops

50

11

21

1.64

1

.865

.750

Farm size

≤ =10

≥ =10 ≤ =50

≥ =51

29

37

16

1.84

2

.728

.530

Ownership

Mortgage

Paid

Lease

30

43

9

1.74

2

.644

.415

Farming long

Years

≤ =10

≥ =11 ≤= 15

≥ =16

20

37

25

2.19

2

.961

.924

% Income from farming

<=10

>=11<=30

>=31

54

20

8

1.43

1

.668

.890

Know sustainable

Agriculture

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

39

16

27

1.85

1

.890

.793

Use of conventional

Chemicals and

Pesticides

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

54

11

17

1.54

1

.818

.670

n=82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As shown in table 2 and 3, the Latino producers’ knowledge of sustainable agriculture increased over the 2 year term.  However, the producers did not reduce their use of conventional inputs when farming (see table 4).  We did observe an increase in the number of farmers who started soil testing and introducing some ecological friendly practices such as livestock grazing management in paddocks (see table 4).

Data sets 3 and 5, listed above, were used to evaluate the learning outcomes of the program. Table 4, below, shows the same sample of producers interviewed in 2016 as in 2018.  Different indicators that relate to using and adopting sustainable production methods were compared from one year to another year with the same participants in each sample. 

Table 4. Latino producers improved awareness, skills and knowledge of sustainable production

 methods. From 2016 to 2018. NCRSARE-LNC15-368.

Sustainable Agriculture

 

Year 2016

 

Year  2018

 

Mean Change

Variables

  Code

Number

Mean

Number

Main

 

%

Age/years

≤ 35                             

≤ 55          

 ≥ 56         

2

16

12

2.36

1

17

12

 

.2.36

 

 

0

Edu/years

≤ 6            

≤ 9            

≥10          

19

2

9

1.66

 

19

2

9

.166

 

 

0

Gender

Male

Female

28

2

1.93

 

28

2

1.93

 

 

0

Region/origin

México     

U.S.          

Central A. 

22

0

8

1.53

 

22

0

8

1.53

 

 

0

 

Farming/activity

Large livestock

Small livestock

Specialty crops

10

9

11

1.90

 

15

3

12

2.03

 

 

Farm size

≤ =10

≥ =10 ≤ =50

≥ =51

11

16

3

1.73

 

11

16

3

1.73

 

 

0

 

Total household

income (year)

<=$35000

>=$35001<=$45000

>=$45001

12

4

14

2.06

 

8

7

15

2.23

 

 

8.25

 

% Income from farming

<=10

>=11<=30

>=31

25

4

1

1.2

 

9

13

8

1.96

 

 

63.33

Know sustainable

agriculture

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

9

1

20

1.3

21

9

0

2.36

 

81.53

Use conventional

chemicals and

pesticides

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

11

8

11

2.23

10

9

8

2.0

 

10.31

Follow an agribusiness plan

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

0

0

30

3.0

1

1

28

2.9

 

3.33

Keeping financial records

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

4

8

18

2.46

15

8

7

1.73

 

29.67

Agroecological plan

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

0

0

30

3

4

1

25

2.7

 

10

Knowledge of

ecologically friendly

practices

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

6

2

22

2.53

15

8

7

1.73

 

31.62

Soil testing

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

4

0

26

2.73

11

0

19

2.26

 

17.21

Perception of my

production methods as

“Not a risk for human health”

1=Agree

2=Neutral

3=Disagree

26

3

1

1.66

27

0

3

1.2

 

27.71

Resilience

Easy to find

ag-business opportunities

1=Always

2=Sometimes

3=Rarely

13

10

7

1.80

7

17

6

1.96

 

8.88

Interact with gov.,

USDA/U.Xsion

Representatives

1=Always

2=Sometimes

3=Rarely

1

1

28

2.9

2

5

23

2.7

 

6.89

n=30

This program has helped a large number of Latino producers in different ways. It significantly increased their learning outcomes over a two-year period for those producers who attended the educational events. Such as in-class sessions and/or on-farm demonstrations. As shown in table 4, some significant changes in the perceptions of sustainable production methods were observed over a two year period.

Research conclusions

These conclusions are based on the assumptions that new and beginning Latino producers are highly biased to opt for conventional production methods instead of sustainable methods, and that Latino producers are unaware of the consequences of using conventional production methods on their farms and ranches. Table 5 below shows how the “knowledge about sustainable agriculture” among Latino producers correlates with their perceptions of using  “conventional pesticides,” “Do tilling practices,” “awareness of secondary effect of using conventional pesticides,” “access to agro-ecological u organic inputs,” and “livestock grass management practices.”

By running a linear regression model to predict to what extent Latino producers are aware of knowing about sustainable agriculture, we were able to document that 33% of their awareness levels is explained by 6 variables.

Table 5. Correlations and descriptive statistics (n-100)

Variables

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1. know sustainable agriculture

2. Farming activity

3. Follow conv. pest control

4. Do tilling practices

5. Aware conv. ag. effects  

6. Access agroecological inputs

7. Do grazing management

 

M

SD

Variance

-.225*

-.274**

 .354**

 .427**

 .352**

-.251*

 

2.49

  .86

  .78

 

-.015

-.543**

-.220*

-.179

-.481**

 

1.91

  .87

  .75

 

 

-.044

-.065

-.258**

 .075

 

1.62

  .87

  .76

 

 

 

 .253*

 .149

-.354**

 

2.39

  .83

  .69

 

 

 

 

 .411**

-.188

 

2.52

  .76

  .57

 

 

 

 

 

-.095

 

2.85

  .48

  .23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.79

  .92

  .85

                 

 *p < 0.05. **p < 0.01. (2-tailed)

 

Based on the results from this program, we observed a need to teach suitable production methods among new and beginning producers entering the agriculture industry. There might be additional factors explaining why these farmers are biased to conventional rather than sustainable production methods. However, education and facilitating technical assistance seems to be an immediate need, as well as increasing the number of USDA and University Extension Services representatives to provide training in agroecology principles. A lack of guidance and expertise among educational providers might be one of the main factors that is keeping new and experienced producers from increasing their involvement with agro-ecological practices. Rather, those who are producers and have a passion and love for what they do, have been motivating and influencing educational providers to look for ecological ways to producing food.

 

Farmer adoption actions that resulted from the education program.

We have been able to maintain consistent interactions with most Latino producers involved in this program. During the summer of 2018, We were able to visit with 54 Latino producers who were involved at different levels of this program.

  1. Specialty crop producers
    • Use of recycled materials for controlling weeds.
    • Use of hay-strolls for controlling humidity and weeds.
    • Increased crop rotations for some gardeners
    • Soil management
      • Soil testing is one of the farming activities that some producers are doing.
      • Some producers started composting their food scrap waste.
    • AT least 3 producers were granted with an EQIP program by the NRCS to install high tunnel panels.

 

  1. Livestock producers

 

  • Reducing Livestock inventories to meet the carrying capacity of their paddocks.

By doing soil testing, producers were able to know that some of their pasture productivity was significantly caused by unbalanced pH levels in their soils. Consequently, they didn’t need to add the synthetic fertilizer they previously applied to their soils. For instance, a producer mentioned that he was surprised about his pasture not growing even though he added synthetic fertilizers to his soil. After he made a soil analysis, it was found out that his level of pH was low, and by adding alkaline inputs like lime, he was able to increase his pasture’s productivity. We also suggested to him to frequently keep adding composted materials such as manure to help with his soil’s capacity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Objectives:

This program proposed to solve the following 5 main objectives:

  1. To document Latino the producers’ perceptions, views, skills, knowledge base and awareness of their current sustainable production methods.
    1. We collected primary-data about each producer’s perceptions, views, skills, knowledge base and awareness about the way they were conducting farming and ranching activities. We also collected data to understand the business and community capacities needed to transition into sustainable production methods. Results are summarized on table 4 and 5 above.
  2. To develop a curriculum that matches the Latino producers’ learning needs in sustainable agriculture.
    1. We used sustainable agricultural principles to design a structured survey of 179 questions. This survey was used to collect data from a sample of 128 Latino producers in Missouri. Based on the producers’ responses, we were able to outline a teaching curriculum manual to further introduce and teach small and medium producers about how to start and sustain a sustainable agriculture operation. The curriculum manual is added to this report. It is called “Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture” it is an educational approach to expanding awareness of sustainable agriculture for new and experienced producers.
  3. To instruct the curricula using events that encourage, involve the Latino producers’ participation such as having workshop-panels and on-farm and ranch educational classes.
    1. A draft of this curriculum was instructed to a total of 46 Latino producers in the South-West and Central-West regions of Missouri during the winter of 2016 and spring of 2017.
  4. To create social and working networks that help Latino farmers stay connected with other Latino producers as well as with local production networks that support sustainable agriculture.
    1. Datasets from the field work have allowed us to develop cluster analysis of data. We have identified potential clusters of producers to potentially develop collective action groups. In addition, we started a closed Facebook group of Latino producers who use internet-based social networks. The group has 75 members. We have been able to promote sustainable production method posts and other announcements through network tool.
  5. To evaluate the impact of the program and document the levels of awareness, skills, knowledge and to what extent the producers have adopted sustainable production practices.
    1. We have been able to follow up with many producers in various ways. We have data that documents the changes in awareness, skills and knowledge levels concerning sustainable production methods. This data is shown in table 2, 3 and 4 above.

 

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert
  • Dr. Touria Eaton
  • Dr. Zelalem Mersha Mersha
  • Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall
  • Dr. Jaime Pinero
  • Billy Polansky
  • Prof. Henry Rauch (Educator)
  • Prof. Ramon Salazar (Educator)
  • Prof. Matthew Dolan (Educator)
  • Prof. Jorge L. Lugo-Camacho (Educator)

Research

Hypothesis:

 

The research part of this project seeks to document Latino producer’s perceptions, views, skills, knowledge, and awareness about their current sustainable production methods and the challenges they need to overcome to transition into sustainable production methods. Two main hypotheses guide this research.

Ho. Latino producers are highly biased to opt for conventional methods of production instead of sustainable methods.

Ho. Latino producers are constrained by their skill levels and knowledge base which keeps them from transitioning becoming fully involved with sustainable practices.

Materials and methods:

We used two methodologies to collect the data from Latino producers in order to validate and provide evidence of their views on sustainable practices. First, we conducted a qualitative approach consisting of 4 focus groups and open interviews which reached 28 participants. Focus groups were conducted in Spanish and data from the focus groups was transcribed and translated from Spanish into English and analyzed using NVivo 10 Software. The findings were used to design a survey instrument in Spanish.

A quantitative survey was also used to collect data on awareness, skills, and knowledge on sustainable production methods among 100 Latino producers. The survey collected information on the participant’s demographic profiles and skill levels and knowledge base in regards to practicing sustainable production activities in four main areas: business plans and farm management, agro-ecology and livestock management practices, conservation practices as well as pest control and plant pathology management. Survey data was entered in and the aggregated data from all participants is currently being analyzed using SPSS software. We also have used the significant responses from farmers’ surveys to help guide our emphasis during the instructional workshops in both in-class sessions and on-farm demonstrations.

A replication of this survey is being used to collect data from the same sample of 100 Latino producers in Missouri in early 2018.

Research results and discussion:

The expected results of this study are that producers will exhibit positive effects when they adopt sustainable production methods after their involvement with in-class training and on-farm demonstrations. We also have evaluated the significant effects on demographic and sociological factors to know the level of influence a farmer or rancher might have on the kind of production system another farmer might practice. A control group of farmers from this sample; contrarily, suggest negative effects on adopting sustainable production methods and might directly influence new and beginning producers to follow conventional production methods. Our outreach and technical assistance focuses on farm production strategies, each producer’s agro-ecological literacy, and agribusiness strategies that will be needed to continue. The producers are being monitored to document and validate their transition from unsustainable production methods to other production systems such as agro-ecology agriculture and organic agriculture.

Research conclusions:

Impacts

  • Producers participating in the interviews and data collection have gained knowledge and awareness about sustainable agriculture.

We found that the producers who have participated in focus groups and surveys have shown concerns about their current production methods. Our focus group discussions have shown that Latino farmers have concerns about following specific conventional production practices such as spraying conventional pesticides and fertilizers. Others have argued, for example, that sustainable production methods are only possible with small gardening plots.

  • The completed survey also helped to increase the Latino farmer and ranchers’ awareness about the methods they are currently using in relation to following sustainable production systems based on: business plans and farm financial management, conservation and livestock management practices, agro-ecology and integrated pest control management.   
  • From March to June 2017 we conducted 2 outreach approaches to educate Latino producers in sustainable agriculture production methods. Quantitative data from 2 surveys instruments was collected. We used a “end of session evaluation survey,’ and a pre-test and post-test evaluation survey at each workshop. Impact on 46 participants in the workshops is documented in the link below.

Before-and-After-Evaluation-workshops1

As the project progresses, additional outreach activities will further increase the impact of this project.

Contributions/outcomes

  1. A representative population of Latino producers in Missouri is willing to learn and to produce food using sustainable production practices.
  1. Preliminary findings are starting to be disseminated in regional and national venues. This means other researchers and educators are able to know more about Latino farmer and rancher perceptions, views on production methods.
  1. A social network of Latino farmers facilitating and receiving information and discussing their concerns about sustainable production methods has formed. It has been extended to social media such as Facebook under the name: “New and Beginning Latino Farmers and Ranchers.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/1650513891857603/?ref=bookmarks

Accomplishments

  1. Latino farmers and ranchers outreach:

We conducted an intensive recruit approach to locate more than 100 Latino farmers in the state. The last US Census of Agriculture (2012) reported 548 main Latino operators in the state of Missouri. This project has allowed us to reach out to and interact with at least a sample size of 18.3% of the total official US population of Latino farmers in the state.

The demographic profile of the Latino farmer and rancher reached by this program was: most participants were males (98%), a high proportion of them (52%) range in age between 35 and 55 years old, 39% were less than 35 years of age, and 71% of them mentioned only having received 6 or less years of formal education. Our data also shows only 16% have received a high school diploma as well as that 70% were immigrants from Mexico, 20% from Guatemala and 8% were from El Salvador, while 8% were US born. Most of them perform livestock activities on small ranches. Accordingly, 69% own farms of 20 or less acres, 20% own farms between 20 and 50 acres, and only 11% own farms over 50 acres. In terms of years, 73% have been farming for 10 years or less. In terms of loan payments, 40% of them don’t have a mortgage on their farms, while 46% are paying a current mortgage. From the 100 producers interviewed, only 27 have some skill and knowledge about the concept of sustainable agriculture .

  1. Structured sustainable agriculture survey:

We structured a survey-questionnaire that included demographic, financial, sustainable agriculture, cultural, resilience to farm and social capital variables. From this survey, we were able to create 177 variables which allow us to gain a complete analysis with a large number of variables as factors influencing Latino producers to pursue sustainable production methods.     

  1. Complete data set of a representative sample of Latino farmers in Missouri:

This project is helping outreach to Latino farmers and ranchers in Missouri. There are a large number of Latino farmers and ranchers who were unaware of the US Census of Agriculture. Based on the last US Census of Agriculture, there is a total of 548 Latino farmers main operators which means that we have reached 18.3% of that population. However, when trying to find Latino farmers in counties where the Census reported a determined number of farmers, we were unsuccessful in finding them. But, in other counties, we doubled the number of farmers counted in the US Census of Agriculture. 

  1. A database to continue research and support sustainable agriculture as an educational need in the community of Latino farmers and ranchers:

We were very careful in collecting valid data that allows us to have an accurate prediction about the factors influencing Latino producers to perform sustainable production methods on their farms and ranches.

  1. We have created a Latino farmer profile for the state of Missouri to understand the producers’ skill levels, knowledge base and the socio-economic settings that relate with sustainable production methods in the following categories:
    1. Demographic profile
    2. Latino producers’ approach to financial and business planning
    3. Latino producers’ approach to livestock production and conservation practices
    4. Latino producers’ approach to growing specialty crops with agroecological practices.
    5. Latino producers’ approach to integration in the US agricultural industry.

Milestones

  1. Finding Latino farmers who are developing farming activities, but are not connected to social networks.
  2. To follow a long-term path of gaining the trust of farmers who hesitate to participate in the program.  
Participation Summary
100 Farmers participating in research

Education

Educational approach:

ESACurriculum-manual-SARE-LNC15-3681

As part of objective 3 of this program, we instructed a draft curriculum using 2 educational approaches to encourage, involve and include the Latino producers’ participation. We incorporated workshop-panels and on-farm and ranch demonstrations to make it more interesting for the participants.

The instruction of the curriculum was organized into four workshop-panels consisting of producers and community resource agents as well as four on-site farm visit workshops conducted at farms performing sustainable practices as models. The length of each event was planned to meet the participants’ disposition to attending events and to learning new skills and knowledge.

We instructed producers in four different communities in Missouri as follows:

  • A workshop-panel on sustainable agriculture. This event mixed two activities, the instruction of the curriculum and a panel discussion.
  1. A 2-hour learning workshop that instructed on sustainable agricultural production methods (See attached presentations). We had a short intermission after each hour.
  2. A 1-hour panel discussion with agents and leaders in the community who provide resources for sustainable agriculture. The panel discussion led producers on how to access resources related to conservation practices. Four Latino producers applied for NRCS programs. Four high tunnels were approved to be installed in 2018
  • An on-site farm visit workshop demonstration. This mixed the two activities of an on-site instruction session, and an on-farm visit.
  1. A 1-hour farm visit showing what a sustainable farm or ranch looks like while learning how to perform sustainable practices.

Powerpoint presentations of the main topics of this program are attached in the links below. A sample of flyers used for inviting producers to workshops and to farm demonstrations is also attached.

flyer-FORO-AGROPECUARIO-LATINO-Carthage-MO

flyer-on-farm-demostration-English-version

NCRSARE-Manejo-productivo-y-Financiero-Gonzalez

Native-plants-and-Sustainable-Agriculture

Sustainable-Gardening-Columbia-Center-for-Urban-Agriculture

Soil-and-water-manaagement-programs-NRCS_Spanish

After each workshop, evaluation data was collected with the attached survey instruments>

Evaluacion-before-and-after-workshop End-of-sesion-evaluation

Evaluacion-before-and-after-workshop

 

 

Project Activities

On-farm and Ranch Demostration
On-farm and Ranch Demostration
On-farm and Ranch Demostration
On-farm and Ranch Demostration
Farming and Ranching Forum / In-classworkshop
Farming and Ranching Forum / In-classworkshop
Farming and Ranching Forum / In-classworkshop
Farming and Ranching Forum / In-classworkshop
Latino Farmer and Ranchers’ Perceptions on Native Plants for Sustainable Agriculture in Missouri
Pursuing Sustainable Farming and Ranching Production Methods: The Case of Latino Farmers and Ranchers in Missouri
Exploring Farming and Ranching Sustainable Production Methods Among New and Beginning Latino Producers in Missouri
Online new and begininng Latino farmers and ranchers group

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
4 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
3 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

110 Farmers
6 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Educational outreach activities began during the focus group interviews. At the focus group, we started with creating working relationships with the Latino producers while obtaining their views on sustainable production methods. The focus group discussions helped to create an awareness of using sustainable production methods. Data collected from the focus groups helped us to build a survey instrument for collecting the personal perceptions and views about the challenges of following sustainable production methods. While we were collecting face-to-face information, it allowed us to grow bonding relationships with producers and to expand their awareness about this project’s objectives. 

During the process of designing instructional workshops and developing a network to expose as many producers to farm and ranch demonstrations, we observed a lack of connection with soil and management conservations resources. Consequently, we got the Natural Resources and Conservation Services involved in the outreach and included them in the program.  Many Latino ranchers are also gardener producers. The Center for Urban Agriculture in Columbia also helped with outreach and educating producers on specialty crops including using sustainable production methods.

Educational and Outreach activities in this program are as follows:

  • A draft curriculum of educational and on-farm demonstration sessions is in progress. 
  • Four on-farm demonstrations were conducted at four different farms and ranches in Missouri.  In the picture below, we show some of the demonstrations and these on-farm activities.
  • Four in-class workshops. Each one was instructed at a different location in the Central and Southwest regions of Missouri. (see the Powerpoint presentation attached in the project activities section)
  • An online group of Latino farmers was created on Facebook. It is a closed group and currently has 53 members. All members are Latino gardeners, farmers or ranchers.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1650513891857603/
  • A total of three conference presentations has resulted from this program which have been presented at major regional conference events. See the Powerpoint presentation attached. Currently, these paper presentations are being developed to be published in journal venues.
  • Upcoming Poster Presentation at the 2018 “Our Farms, our Future”
  • Upcoming paper Presentation at the RSS in 2018
  • Replication of surveys to 100 Latino farmers and ranchers. Data collection. Up to this reporting period, this program has outreached to 110 Latino producers in Missouri. This amount includes 100 participants in face-to-face surveys and focus-group interviews, additional participants who have been added during farm visits and workshops.
  • Data Analysis
  • Final report

Learning Outcomes

46 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key areas taught:
  • Business plan and financial instruments
  • Livestock and grazing systems
  • Soil management
  • Gardening and sustainable production methods

Project Outcomes

46 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
Key practices changed:
  • Keeping records of business transaction and production activities are increasing

  • More farmers are considering and doing soil testing in their operations

  • More Latino producers are aware of soil quality and water quality to farm and ranch. Latino farmers are opting for using high tunnels to have an environment control of their production.

  • Increased awareness about attracting pollinators in connection with native plants is observed among specialty crops producers

  • Latino producers are getting involved with conservation practices in their operations.

3 Grants applied for that built upon this project
1 Grant received that built upon this project
4 New working collaborations
Success stories:

Sustainable Agriculture and soil and water conservation programs are highly correlated. During workshops and farm demonstrations, Latino producers were connected with farming and ranching resources offered by the Natural Resources and Conservation Service.  As a result of bringing NRCS representatives to workshops and farm demonstrations, four Latino producers have been awarded Environmental Quality Incentive programs in the Southwest region of Missouri.  In 2018, they will be receiving economic support to install high tunnel panels on their farms.

We conducted a survey evaluation instrument to receive feedback from participants about their gain in skills and knowledge before and after each workshop.

We evaluated 6 practices to introduce producers to farm sustainability and profitability. We observed a significant gain of knowledge just after they receive training. We observed a significant gain of knowledge shortly after they received training. We evaluated the knowledge gained about having a business plan for their farms and ranches, understanding of their farm and ranches assets and liabilities, enhanced knowledge to be able to perform sustainable production methods, gained knowledge about pollinators and native plants, gaining an understanding of soil management and conservation practices in their operations. Connect with the link to see the knowledge gained in those areas. Before-and-After-Evaluation-workshops

 

 

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.