Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture for Latinx and Limited-resource Producers in Missouri

Progress report for LNC20-434

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $245,505.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Lincoln University
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Eleazar Gonzalez
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
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Project Information


According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, the total number of farms in the U.S. declined 3.2 % from the Census of 2012.  Latino farm owner-operators increased 16% going from 67,000 farms in 2012 to 77,416 farms in 2017. Latino farmers are the only ethnic minority group with a significant and consistent increase in number since the Census of Agriculture 2007. In Missouri, the number of Latino producers significantly increased (100%) from 548 to 1097 farm owner-principal operators. The Latino farmer's profile matches the predominant demographic profile of Missouri farmers. In general, in Missouri, 78% of farmers averaged had farm sales of $49,999 or less per year, and 65% of farms are of less than 179 acres.

This program builds on a recent NCR-SARE program (SARE project LNC15-368) among Latino producers in Missouri. In that program, a sample of 100 Latinx producers helped to document factors constraining them to practice sustainable agriculture. The study suggests that four challenges keep Latino producers in Missouri from practicing sustainable agriculture. Including; a) farm households incomes depend on off-farm sources, b) the existence of a socio-economic farm framework system influencing farmers to opt for conventional production methods, c) lack of knowledge and skills in agro-ecological practices, and d) poor understandings of financial and managerial skills needed to follow agribusiness plans.

 The program Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture for Latinx and Limited Resource Producers in Missouri aims to expand those findings with an additional approach to evaluate current sustainable production methods among Latino producers. It will use a convenient sample of 50 Latino producers and document the current levels of skills, knowledge, and attitudes toward partially and fully transitioning into sustainable and organic production methods supported by a mixed- methods analysis. Then, an enhanced Entrepreneurial Sustainable Education curriculum (ESA) https://projects.sare.org/information-product/entrepreneurial-sustainable-agriculture-esa/ will directly increase engagement, skills, attitudes, and knowledge of 30 Latino producers in sustainable agriculture and organic production methods. This program will create a Latino-producer advisory group to enhance farmer's participation and communication with program activities.

New skills, knowledge, and implementation of innovative and good agricultural practices will eventually reduce farm inputs, enhance the farm's natural resources, and increase the diversity of fresh produce food into local community markets.

Project Objectives:
  • To increase the entrepreneurial, production and community capacities of Latino producers by educating producers and creating an advisory/mentor group of Latino producers.
  • To implement sustainable production activities on Latino producers’ farms. Successful sustainable producer mentors will join in on gatherings that implement sustainable practices on farms.
  • To train 30 Latino producers and we expect 20 to implement sustainable practices, including greenhouses, geothermal systems, and regenerative soil practices.
  • To evaluate gains in knowledge, attitudes, skills and on-ground activities of 50 producers  transitioning into organic and agro-ecological systems use.

The global agricultural industry continues to evolve in different production systems, where large farms mainly focus on conventional ways of production, while many small and medium farms continue developing interest in sustainable and organic production systems. Conventional systems use automatized technologies and require less labor-intensive needs because of economies of scale. On the other side, limited resource producers of sustainable and organic systems continue demanding intensive labor involvement to meet their production needs. However, sustainable farming innovations continue to motivate the resilience of these limited resource producers. Most Latino farmers and ranchers in the United States are limited resource producers but most of them are unaware of how to produce sustainably and organically. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture in the U.S., seventy percent of Latino producers registered $10,000 or less in value of sales per year. This fact is also similar in Missouri where most producers diversify with livestock and crops in small plots of land. A recent NCR-SARE study (Gonzalez E. 2018) observed that more than 90% of the Latino producers interviewed (n=100) owned farms and ranches of equal or less than 50 acres and a high proportion of those owned 1 to 15 acres. After years of working with Latino farmers, we observed their resilience to remain in farming regardless, yet some complain how they must complement their farm needs with their outside farm income. 


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Gabriel Salinas
  • Susan Jaster
  • Emanuel Juarez



The program will use a cross-sectional analysis to evaluate current skills, knowledge, and awareness of sustainable production methods. During our data analysis, we will be using multivariate analysis to test the general hypothesis that Latinx farmers significantly increased the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices over time. A database of 2018 (time 1) used with an NCR-SARE grant program will help this program estimate longitudinal effects in adopting and following sustainable production methods in time 2 (2021). We will test multiple explanatory variables that align with sustainable agricultural conservation practices, sustainable livestock grass management practices, and the use of community-agribusiness models that encourage and align with local and regional food production systems. 

Materials and methods:

The field research activities started with an outreach evaluation survey to assess knowledge, skills, and on-ground sustainable systems among 50 Latino producers in 2 regions of Missouri. This initial assessment is helping the program to have a before-program evaluation tool. The program also aims to enhance collaboration with the Missouri-Granjero Cooperative (MGC), where we has a network of Latino farmers and the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (CCUA) who facilitate training. Data help us to know knowledge and facilitate training that align with sustainable agriculture.

In this first stage, using a mixed-methods approach, we collected data to assess current knowledge and on-ground activities among farmers. This mixed- methods approach consisted of a survey interview to collect cross-sectional data about awareness, skills, knowledge, attitudes towards sustainable agriculture techniques. Simultaneously, we use direct observation qualitative techniques while conducting face-to-face interviews. We also seek to explore photovoice techniques to to interpret.  We are still in the evaluation stage and research analysis of data.  We are striving to replicate that survey in the last quarter of 2024, it will help to assess our impact on adopting sustainable practices among farmers.  We started the educational approach after data collection. Our pilot training to train farmers in sustainable agriculture in the last quarter of 2023. A selection criterion will lead us to select producers for this program. 

This progress report we show data analyzed in SPSS software, still pending is analysis of views and feeling in a qualitative way to identify whether the farmer is willing to implement specific sustainable technologies (soil regenerative techniques, high tunnels systems other climate control techniques). This methodology will also help to identify Latino producers with the best potential to complete the training and implement the new knowledge in their farms. 

In the second stage of the program, we offered a pilot workshop to instruct an Entrepreneurial Sustainable Education approach methodology developed in a previous NCR-SARE program. Our first training was delivered from October to December 2023. The training was in the Spanish language; all participants were Latino farmers. The program will offer an English translator as needed; most of the program personnel are bilingual. We trained 14 farmers in our pilot training, we are going to start another 12 session training in May 2024, then another one in September to achieve our end goal of training 30 farmers in the central west region and in the southwest area of Missouri.

The educational approach proposed will mix three components; a) in-classroom sessions, b) on-farm demonstrations and c) on-ground implementation of sustainable systems. Four in-class workshop-sessions will provide participants with the theoretical tools to enhance their understandings of sustainable agriculture, show them how to access conservation programs such as the NRCS-EQIP, RD and FSA program.

Year 2023.

In 2023, we offered our pilot workshop.

As described in our methodology we followed the Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture educational approach, which offer us flexibility to alternate inside and outside educational activities. For instance, we conducted four in-room sessions, and alternated farm visits then demonstrations activities. We follow the proposed educational model of mixing classroom sessions, farm sessions and on farm activities demonstrations (4-4-4). 

All sessions are designed to address the SARE principles of sustainability as follows:

  1. In-room education. It includes the instruction of workshops over four in-class sessions. Information presented at each workshop might be adjusted to guarantee that producers receive the appropriate information to acquire the knowledge and skills to experience and learn about sustainable production methods. Instruction of sessions during the pilot training were as follows:
    1. Module One: Sustainable Agriculture
    2. Module Two: Access to community networks and agribusiness tools
    3. Module Three:  Sustainable management of soil and water (climate change training approach)
    4. module Four: Business model for Sustainable Agriculture 
  2. Farm Visits  
  1. Farm visit one. Midleton All natural Meat farms
  2. Farm Visit Two. Manejo Sustentable de Praderas y Carga Animal en Potreros.
  3. Farm visit Three. Nutrición Animal y Manejo Sustentable de
    Forrjes para el Primavera verano- toño-Invierno
  4. Farm Visit Four: Implementación de Prácticas Sustenables.

3. On-farm demonstration activities

We selected four farmers to conduct activities on their farm, such as soil testing, cover cropping, and livestock paddock management. in addition, we collected among fifty Latino farmers 50 soil samples, each farmer is being educated on implementing soil management with sustainable/regenerative techniques. Soil samples generally showed very low pH levels, mainly because most farmers receiving soil samples are livestock producers and don't amend their soils or grow grass systems. Still, most don't have soil testing experience and were unaware of lime use to move soil pH to alkaline levels..

On-farm demonstrations. Four on-farm demonstrations exposed participants to sustainable practices. In this first farm visit sessions we mainly focus on livestock producers practices. On-ground implementation activities: On-farm demonstration activities help link Latino producers to on-ground implementation of sustainable farm practices. The program advisory made by co-principal investigators was supportive of on-ground implementation activities, farmers' mentors, and program personnel.

Attached to this progress report is the outline of training in a different region of Missouri. We already have people demanding it.

Pilot training evaluation. An evaluation of the pilot training comes from:

  1. An end-of-session evaluation survey was collected at each training session (in-room and on-farm demonstrations).
  2. A 'before' and 'after' evaluation survey was included in the evaluation. 
  • A short open-question interview was offered to collect perceptions on training and program improvement.

Current evaluation of our fist training observed positive impact on skills and knowledge gained among participants. Below are some evaluation indicators we collect from the 14 participants in the pilot training. 

All participants were male, and most (57.1%) were older than 50 years. 

1. Knowledge of Sustainable Agriculture before training and after training.

We used Likert scale evaluation questions to know the skills and level of knowledge gained after training. Forty-two % of responders reported an increase in skill, knowledge, and awareness on sustainable agriculture after training.  

2. Knowledge of water management before and after training also showed a significant increase of 42.9 %, moving from poor to good skills and knowledge to "very good" knowledge. 

3.  Regarding their gain of knowledge on soil management, we also observed significant increase (57.1%) moving up in a scale from poor knowledge to a very good knowledge after training.

4. knowledge and awareness of climate change was also evaluated. We observed very positive response on this indicators, after training eight farmers (57.1%) of the attendance reported an increase in their perception and knowledge on climate change.

Evaluation charts were attached in the add media link. The format didn't allow us to add tables correctly in this narrative.


Extended no cost extended grant in 2024

Workshops series two and three. The second educational training series will start in the spring (program attached) and will continue until the end of June 2024. a final series will be offered in another region from July to September. Then survey evaluation assessment second round will be collected.

 We have now solved many issues related to the best educational approach to educating Latino farmers and guiding them in implementing sustainable production systems. Similarly, we will be able to have a good number of applications filed at the NRCS-EQIP programs to receive grants to install high panel tunnels and other geothermal practices. We expect a lot of interest in these programs for Latino producers because of the link they create between training, accessing resources, and on-ground implementation of farming activities. Workshop two will teach another 10 Latino producers with the same educational approach used during workshop one training. The Latino Farmers' Advisory group will help to get other farmers involved in this region. We have already received the support and interest of Latino producers in attending the training offered in this program for the spring and fall.


Research results and discussion:

We are reporting preliminary data from a convenient sample of 50 latino farmers in Missouri. Farmers' participants were conveniently selected from our database of Latino farmers in Missouri. A previous SARE grant help us to create a latino farmer data base of 100 farmers, who are clearly identified and we have been able sustain a relationship with them using different venues.  Fifty farmers interviewed in 2018 are the base of this new data set. 

Previously, we reported interviewing 42 Latino farmers. We completed the goal of 50 Latino farmers Attached you will find an interview data manual, which shows responses of Latinx farmers to some crucial variables to use in upcoming research reports. We will present preliminary findings in the 1890 research symposium celebrated April 6 to 9, 2024 in Nashville TN. 


North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture for Latinx and Limited-resource Producers in Missouri



February 2023

Preliminary report

Part I. Missouri Latinx Farmer DataBase

Reference file name: “NRCSfarmerdata_50_var_241_2022.sav”

This report includes 241 responses from farmers, contrary to 218 reported in our previous report.

Data variables:

Sample size = 50 farmers

The questionnaire seeks to capture the most Sustainable Agriculture practices and those socioeconomic factors that directly relate to helping farmers transition to integrate sustainable practices in their operations.

 Surveys collected from farmers were entered using SPSS software and Qualtrics Software.

Data includes variable categories and related items from the database

  1. Sociodemographic variables
  2. Social networks and broadband access
  3. Sustainable production practices  
  4. Economics of Sustainable Agriculture Production
  5. Social sustainability

Interview Data Manual of 50 farmers interviewed in 2022-2023 is added to the "Add Media" link.


Research conclusions:

In this progress report, we can start documenting preliminary findings. We completed the goal of interviewing fifty face-to-face Latino farmers and ranchers in Missouri.

Data includes variable categories and related items from the database

  1. Sociodemographic variables
  2. Social networks and broadband access
  3. Sustainable production practices  
  4. Economics of Sustainable Agriculture Production
  5. Social sustainability

We have been analyzing a total of 218 variables in those five categories. Preliminary findings related to documenting Latino farmers' progress in adopting sustainable production practices on farms are in progress.  Our team will present two topics from this database in the upcoming 1890 Research Symposium in April.  One is a research poster where we document Latino farmers perceptions on sustainable agribusines plan (file attached).  The second is an oral presentation of preliminary findings on "broadband access and use among Latino producers in adopting climate-smart sustainable agriculture and connecting with high-paid markets in Missouri." in this study, we evaluate how Latino farmers respond to broadband access and social media use to adopt sustainable farming methods and connect with local markets.

A booklet of descriptive data is attached.


Participation Summary
50 Farmers participating in research


Educational approach:

The educational approach proposed will mix three components; a) in-classroom sessions, b) on-farm demonstrations and c) on-ground implementation of sustainable systems. Four in-class workshop-sessions were thought during our pilot training on the updated and amendments of the curriculum.  In classroom sessions and on farm demonstrations were hosted to help farmers to to enhance their understandings of sustainable agriculture, show them how to access conservation programs such as the NRCS-EQIP, RD and FSA program.

Project Activities

Entrepreneurial Sustainable Agriculture for Latinx and Limited-resource Producers in Missouri

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
5 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
8 On-farm demonstrations
4 Tours
8 Webinars / talks / presentations
50 Workshop field days
2 Other educational activities: We have been informing all audiences about market prices for conventional and organic products through a weekly market bulletin. We grant 50% of the credit of the bulletin to this grant.

Participation Summary:

55 Farmers participated
6 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

At the beginning of year one, we developed research tools to document Latinx sustainable agriculture practices. We presented a virtual conference on Sustainable Agriculture to a Spanish-speaking audience. 

Upcoming presentations include:

  1. 2024 ARD Research Symposium. in a second try. The program will present preliminary findings on the Latinx farmers' barriers to adopting sustainable agriculture production practices: "Broadband access and use among Latino producers in adopting and using sustainable agriculture production methods in Missouri." https://wwwcp.umes.edu/ard/1890symposium/ 
  2. A research poster entitled "LATINO FARMER PERCEPTIONS ON SUSTAINABLE AGRIBUSINESS PLANS." was accepted to present at the 1890 research symposium 2024.
  3. The program plan to start a second training with the approach of four educational, four farm visits, and four hands-on farming activities during the spring-fall of 2024 
  4. We continue documenting Perceptions of Latino Farmers on sustainable agriculture, challenges in adopting sustainable practices and latinx farmers community integration in the USA agriculture system.   



Learning Outcomes

14 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
4 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes as a result of their participation
Key areas taught:
  • Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Agriculture
  • Social networks, social media access and agribusiness tools in sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable Water and Soil Management for the Regeneration of Natural Resources
  • Business Models for Sustainable Agriculture in Small 7. Farms and Ranches

Project Outcomes

14 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
Key practices changed:
    1 Grant received that built upon this project
    3 New working collaborations
    Success stories:

    There is a significant interest in this program, the initiative to offer soil testing to people who offered surveys increased their awareness on protecting their soil.


    Continue with developing farmers capacity in sustaible production practices. we started increasing farmers understanding of climate change, and it has helped the program to increase awareness and interest for training. 

    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.