Adoption of Sustainable Farming and Ranching Practices among African-American Farmers: Helping and Hindering Factors and the Role of the 2008 Farm Bill

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $126,770.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Heather Gray
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistant Fund
Heather Gray
Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, public policy


    The purpose of the study was to assess why African American farmers (AAFs) had largely not participated in sustainable agriculture practices (SAPs) or taken advantage of USDA’s sustainable agriculture initiatives in the Farm Bill programs. The survey of AAFs in 4 southern states revealed several factors and demographic data that appeared to have either prevented or encouraged their overall participation in SAPs. Age, past experience with USDA, education, access to new information technologies, lack of funding, cooperative membership, and heir property all played significant roles regarding these farmers participation in SAPs.

    Project objectives:

    HYPOTHESIS: Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFR) are not accessing Farm Bill programs targeted at their needs to the degree that other farmers are accessing these programs.

    1) Determine the extent to which African-American producers (Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers) in four Deep South states engage in certain sustainable agricultural practices.

    2) Determine the extent to which all farmers access the targeted federal programs.

    3) Determine the factors that encourage or impede the adoption of these sustainable practices

    4) Determine whether or not key provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill as implemented foster their transition to such practices.

    5) Determine whether changes can be made in regulations implementing the 2008 Farm Bill and/or language in the 2014 Farm Bill to better facilitate the transition of Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to sustainable farming and ranching.

    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.