Latinos have been the largest ethnic group in California since 2014 and make up an even larger portion of the population in many of California’s farming regions.
In fact, the fastest-growing population of farmers throughout the state is Latinos transitioning from farmworkers to farmers.
Latino Farmer Conference
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) held the fifth-annual Latino Farmer Conference in November 2019, as they strive to support Latinos’ entry into agriculture.
Omar Rodriguez, a sustainable agriculture specialist for NCAT, said the conference, which is conducted entirely in Spanish, provides a wide range of information for beginning and seasoned farmers alike. Sessions focus primarily on conservation strategies and practices that help farmers become sustainable. In 2019, sessions also included information on financing for beginning farmers, pathways to farm ownership, marketing, healthy soils and water regulations.
“The primary audience of the conference are California farmers, but it’s useful for anyone in the field,” Rodriguez said. “Attendees also include farmworkers, service providers and industry representatives, who take advantage of the topics covered and our unique audience.”
Diversity in agriculture
Farm Credit is committed to supporting diversity in agriculture. That’s why the Farm Credit associations serving California including, American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit, have sponsored the Latino Farmer Conference for five years.
“With strong support from sponsoring organizations, NCAT and NRCS keep registration fees extremely low, enabling a wide range of prospective farmers to attend,” said Mark Littlefield, the president and CEO of Farm Credit West. “The 2019 conference drew approximately 300 participants and Farm Credit is proud to help make this possible.”
“Sponsors like Farm Credit are essential,” Rodriguez said. “We lean on them heavily to keep our registration costs as low as we can, and their longstanding support has been very helpful.”