Farming Still Not Diverse

Despite some major gains and some impressive efforts to level the playing field, many farmers report that their profession is still a non-diverse place to work, with few non-whites and women eager (or able) to enter the fray.

For the past twenty years, the US Department of Agriculture has been struggling with issues of diversity. In the 80s, a coalition of African American farmer sued the USDA, arguing that the agency had denied them accrues to necessary farm loans and farm credit.

The farmers, as part of what came to be known as the Pigford cases, demanded compensation for this discriminatory practice.

Since then, the USDA has been on the receiving end of several lawsuits and accusations of discrimination. Women, Hispanics, Native Americas, all claimed that they were denied farm loans on the basis of their race or gender.

While Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been working to repair relations with minority farmers, much of the damage has already been done. The latest US Agricultural Census that about 83 percent of America’s 2.2 million farms are owned and operated by white male farmers.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer