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

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, free-range, grazing management, grazing - rotational, manure management, meat product quality/safety, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, preventive practices, rangeland/pasture management, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, beekeeping, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, food processing, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, no-till, nurseries, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health, season extension types and construction, seed saving, silvopasture, terraces, varieties and cultivars, water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
  • Energy: energy use, renewable energy, solar energy
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, financial management, grant making, market study, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: biological control, compost extracts, cultivation, cultural control, integrated pest management, mulches - general, mulching - vegetative, prevention, trap crops, traps, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health, toxic status mitigation
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, community services, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, food hubs, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Abstract:

    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.

     

     

    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.