- Animal Products: dairy
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, participatory research, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, social networks, sustainability measures
This proposal seeks to understand the perceived benefits and barriers to the use of conservation programs and environmental management practices by two growing groups of farmers in the Midwestern U.S. -- Hispanics and women. 2002 Agricultural Census data reveals that Wisconsin farms run by women have increased 27%, and by Hispanics 70% -- a pattern repeated throughout the North Central region. Project surveys and interviews of farmers will expand our understanding of how these groups view their own environmental management practices, their information needs, and their preferred means of receiving information and learning. This research will be shared with collaborators to develop new strategies to increase the use of environmental and conservation programs and participation in organic and other ecolabeling programs by women and Hispanic farmers. Focus groups will engage farmers and collaborating representatives from environmental and natural resource agencies and marketing programs to improve outreach strategies to diverse farmer audiences. These groups will also facilitate project evaluation. Outputs include new data on the environmental activities and conservation needs of women and Hispanic farmers, new ideas about how to engage with less connected groups of farmers, improved outreach and educational materials, and research publications for a range of audiences. Intended outcomes include a better understanding of the new faces of agriculture in the Midwest, improved outreach from sustainable agricultural conservation and educational institutions and expanded numbers of diverse participants in natural resource conservation programs.
Project objectives from proposal:
This proposal seeks to understand the perceived benefits and barriers to the use of conservation and environmental programs by the two fastest growing groups of farmers in the Midwestern U.S. – Latino and women. 2002 Agricultural Census data reveals that Wisconsin farms owned or operated by women have increased 27%, and by Latinos 70% since the 1997 agricultural census -- a pattern repeating throughout the North Central region. This project will fill in information gaps about our increasingly diverse farming population, provide this information to environmental program representatives, and then work with groups of farmers and people from environmental and sustainable education organizations to develop improved strategies for involving a diversity of farmers in environmental programs and in ecolabel market programs.
Intended outcomes include a better understanding of the new faces of agriculture in Wisconsin and in the Midwest as a region, and increased flexibility, sensitivity and outreach capacity on the part of sustainable agricultural conservation and educational institutions. Longer term outcomes include expanded numbers of diverse participants in natural resource conservation and ecolabel programs and accessible, appropriate educational, economic and conservation opportunities for Latino and women farmers who represent a critical force in the future of rural places.
The primary target audience includes university and county extension agents, organic and other sustainable agriculture educators, technical assistance providers and USDA-NRCS agents. Women and Latino farmers will be a secondary target audience for this project, which will also work to educate them about benefits of existing conservation programs and opportunities through ecolabel market programs. With the objective of building region-wide awareness of the changing face of Midwestern agriculture, lessons learned from this project will be shared with researchers, extension agents and program representatives in other Midwestern states, all of which are seeing similar patterns of change in farming populations (USDA-NASS 2002).
The desired impact is enabling increased and long-term responsiveness of agricultural extension and sustainable agriculture networks to new farmers of all kinds. Longer-term outcomes seek to include the development of strategies and the commitment of resources that support diverse new farmers in rejuvenating rural areas and in participating in environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture.