American Agriculture Increasingly More Diverse

Over the last several months, the Department of Agriculture has faced several lawsuits from minority groups claiming discriminatory lending practices. The frequency of these lawsuits, and the government’s willingness to settle, has seemed to indicate an American agricultural landscape that is increasingly discriminatory and homogeneous. However, a 2007 Agricultural Census by the USDA points to an increasingly diverse agricultural landscape.

Since 2002, American farms have become increasingly diverse regarding both race and gender. Women in particular have significantly risen as principal farm operators. In 2002, for example, farms principally operated by women numbered 237,819 nationwide. In 2007, the latest Agricultural Census, women principal operators rose to 306,209, an increase of roughly 29 percent. The acreage owned by women has also risen nearly 5,000,000 acres since 2002.

Women aren’t the only groups experiencing a larger role in agriculture. Since 2002, farms with Native American principal operators have more than doubled, rising from 15,494 in 2002, to over 30,000 in 2007. Overall, African Americans have seen modest gains in agricultural operatorship, but African American women have seen impressive gains, rising almost 50 percent in the last several years.

While some of these gains have been relatively small, the Agricultural Census paints a less stark image than recent farm news might portray. While U.S. agriculture has significant gaps to overcome, farming in the United States has become more diverse and more robust thanks to efforts by the USDA to expand access to capital and land to an increasingly diverse farming population.

To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting .   

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer