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

2016 Annual 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

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



Latino farmers and ranchers in Missouri increased by 26% from Census 2007 to 2012, while the total farming population of farmers decreased by 4%. Skills and knowledge of new Latino producers about sustainable production methods is a concern of this project. This report documents preliminary results about the skills and knowledge on sustainable agriculture among Latino producers in Missouri.  

Accordingly, we are developing and adapting learning materials to them in year 2 of the project.  During year one of the project, “On-Farm and Ranch Education of New and Beginning Latino Producers in Missouri,” we focused on developing exploratory research that allowed us to gain a clear understanding of the factors related to their current performance of sustainable production methods. During the beginning of the project, we did outreach and recruited Latino farmers and ranchers to participate in two stages of exploratory research.

In the first stage, an interview guide was designed to collect qualitative data through focus groups with 28 Latino producers (attachment 1).  During the second stage, survey-questionnaire instrument was designed to collect quantitative data from 100 Latino producers (attachment 2). Also, CITI IRB training courses were completed by investigators, and we were approved by the Institute Review Board at the University of Missouri to collect data from Latino farmers in Missouri (attachment 3). Qualitative data was collected from 28 participants; as well as quantitative data was collected among 100 Latino farmers in 13 counties of Missouri. Quantitative data from surveys was entered into the SPSS program and data is currently being analyzed. Preliminary findings have been presented at the 2016 Cambio de Colores Conference, http://www.cambiodecolores.org/2016/program2016.html (attachment 4).  

Further analysis resulting in two articles is underway to determine whether Latino producers are biased to practicing conventional farming and to what extent they perceive native plants as a potential to increasing their farm’s profitability and sustainability. The two articles have been submitted to be presented at the 2017 Rural Sociological Society meeting (attachment 5).

Based on our findings, we are seeking to create a sustainable agriculture curriculum model to train Latino producers including an educational discussion panel and farm visits which are planned to start early in 2017. Further evaluation of the program and analysis are underway to determine whether Latino farmers have gained additional skills and knowledge and have increased their adoption of sustainable practices.

NCR SARE MO Focus Group Interview Guide irb_exempt_approval_letter_nov-11-2015 Cambio de Colores 2016 conference paper presentation

Objectives/Performance Targets

Year one

Objective: To document the Latino producers’ perceptions, views, skills, knowledge and awareness about their current sustainable production methods.

Goal:  To develop a research approach to explore and to understand Latino farmers and ranchers views on practicing sustainable agriculture.

We used two methods to validate the data and provide evidence of Latino farmers and ranchers views on sustainable agriculture practices.

Method one: We pursued a qualitative approach consisting of 4 focus group interviews. We had a total of 28 participants.

Method two: We pursued a quantitative approach to analyze data collected from 100 Latino producers to document and measure their knowledge of and practices used of sustainable activities.

The survey was designed to collect information regarding the participants’ demographic profiles and skills and knowledge of practicing sustainable production activities in four main areas: holistic farming and financial management, conservation and livestock management practices, agroecology and integrated pest control management.

Objective 2. To develop a curriculum that match the Latino producers’ learning needs in sustainable agriculture.

Exploratory analysis about the needs of Latino producers regarding skills levels and the knowledge to perform sustainable production methods was conducted. Results that show the significant learning needs among producers have been discussed for being incorporated into a sustainable agriculture model, which will be based on other curricula in sustainable agriculture and findings discovered from both data sets; Latino producers’ responses in the focus groups and face-to face surveys are being used to create a sustainable agriculture curriculum model to be instructed to Latino producers about sustainable agricultural practices.


Objectives for Year 2. Educational Approach (to be included in final report)

Objective 3. To instruct the developed curricula using events that encourage, involve and include Latino producers’ participation such as workshop-panels and on-farm and ranch educational visits.


Educational farmers’ forums and farm visits are planned to begin in March 2017.


Objective 4. To create social and work networks that help Latino producers to stay connected with other Latino producers as well as with local production networks that support sustainable agriculture.

A network of Latino farmers and ranchers that support sustainable agriculture has been started. All Latino producers involved up to this stage of the project have been introduced to sustainable agriculture methods and principles. A Facebook group that includes producers that want to follow sustainable production methods has been created. It is named: “New and Beginning Latino Farmers and Ranchers.”

Objective 5. To evaluate the impact of the program and to document the levels of awareness, skills, knowledge, and to what extent they have adopted sustainable production practices.

Evaluation of the impact of the program on the production methods performed by Latino farmers will be evaluated in year 2 of the program.




Year one: 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 allows us to reach out to and interact with a sample 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 with this program as collected in the face-to-face surveys is as follow: most participants were males (98%), a high proportion of them (52%) range an age between 35 and 55 years old. 39% were less than 35 years of age. 71% of them mentioned only been received 6 or less years of formal education. Only 16% received high school diploma. A 70% were immigrants from Mexico, 20% from Guatemala and El Salavador, 8% were US born. Most of them perform Livestock activities (67%) only, 33 % grow specialty crops or other farming activity. They produce in small farms, 69% own farms of 20 or less acres, 20% own farms between 20 and 50 acres and only 11% own farms over 50 acres. 73% has been farming during 10 years or less. 40% of them don’t have a mortgage in the farm, while 46% are paying a current mortgage. From the 100 producers interviewed, only 27 has some skill and knowledge about the concept of sustainable agriculture (attachment 6).

  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 more 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’ skills, knowledge and socio-economic settings to 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.

Year one: milestones

  1. Finding Latino farmers who are developing farming activities, but are not connected to social networks.
  2. To follow a long term path to gain the trust of farmers who hesitate to participate in the program.             

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


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

Producers who have participated in focus groups and surveys showed concerns about their current production methods. Focus group discussions showed Latino farmers had concerns about following specific conventional production practices such as spraying conventional pesticides and fertilizers. Others argued that sustainable production methods are only possible with small gardening plots.

  1. The complete structured survey helped to increase the Latino farmer and rancher awareness about the methods they are currently using in relation to following sustainable production systems based on: holistic farm financial management; conservation and livestock management practices, agroecology and integrated pest control management.   

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


  1. A representative population of Latino producers in Missouri are willing to learn and to produce food using sustainable production practices.
  1. Preliminary findings are starting to be disseminated thought regional and national venues. This means other researchers and educators are able to know more about Latino farmer and rancher perceptions, views and production methods. (abstracts of working paper are attached) 
    1.  Latino Farmer and Rancher Demographic Profile 2017 abstract Navarrete y Gonzalez 2017 Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society
  1. A social network of Latino farmers facilitating, receiving information and discussing their concerns about sustainable production methods is being formed. It has been extended to social media such as Facebook under the name “New and Beginning Latino Farmers and Ranchers.”


Dr. Touria Eaton

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
Lincoln University of Missouri
213 Allen Hall
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Office Phone: 5736815174
Dr. Jaime Pinero

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
212 Allen Hall
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Office Phone: 5736815522
Billy Polansky

[email protected]
General Manager
PO Box 1742
Colombia,, MO 65205
Office Phone: 5735144174
Dr. Zelalem Mersha Mersha

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
Lincoln University of Missouri
214 Allen Hall
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Office Phone: 5736815634
Dr. Charlotte Clifford-Rathert

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
107 Allen Hall
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Office Phone: 5736815169
Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall

[email protected]
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
306 Allen Hall
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Office Phone: 5736815392