Advertisement

Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 631–643 | Cite as

A new era of civil rights? Latino immigrant farmers and exclusion at the United States Department of Agriculture

Article

Abstract

In this article we investigate how Latino immigrant farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States navigate United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, which necessitate standardizing farming practices and an acceptance of bureaucracy for participation. We show how Latino immigrant farmers’ agrarian norms and practices are at odds with the state’s requirement for agrarian standardization. This interview-based study builds on existing historical analyses of farmers of color in the United States, and the ways in which their farming practices and racialized identities are often unseen by and illegible to the state. This disjuncture leads to the increased racial exclusion of immigrant farmers from USDA opportunities. Such exclusions impede the transition to a “new era of civil rights,” as has been proclaimed by USDA leadership. Although efforts to address institutionalized racism on a national level may be genuine, they have failed to acknowledge this schism between rural Latino immigrants and the state, thereby inhibiting a meaningful transition in the fields, and continuing a legacy of unequal access to agrarian opportunities for non-white immigrant farmers.

Keywords

Immigrant farming Race in agriculture Latino farmers United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Goucher College Environmental Studies Department for the opportunity to work together and conduct this research as well as the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University and the Association of American Geographers (AAG) for continued financial support for this project. They would also like to thank the organizers and participants of the “Race and Rurality in the Global Economy” Workshop at Duke University, where this paper was first presented, as well as Lindsey Dillon and Clare Gupta for comments on earlier versions and feedback from Evan Weissman on the workshop presentation. Most importantly, the authors would like to thank all participants in this study for their time and willingness to discuss their lives and livelihoods with us.

References

  1. Ahearn, M.C., J. Yee, and P. Korb. 2005. Effects of differing farm policies on farm structure and dynamics. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 87(5): 1182–1189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, P. 2008. Mining for justice in the food system: Perceptions, practices, and possibilities. Agriculture and Human Values 25(2): 157–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, S., and C. Getz. 2008. Privatizing farm worker justice: Regulating labor through voluntary certification and labeling. Geoforum 39(3): 1184–1196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chan, S. 1989. This bittersweet soil: The Chinese in California agriculture, 1860–1910. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Clapp, J., and D. Fuchs. 2012. Food. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  6. Clearfield, F. 1994. Reaching out to socially disadvantaged farmers. rural development and a changing USDA. In Proceedings of the 51st annual professional agricultural workers conference, ed. N. Baharanyi, R. Zabawa, W. Hill, and A. Parks, 135–142. Tuskegee: Tuskegee University.Google Scholar
  7. Couto, R.A. 1991. Heroic bureaucracies. Administration & Society 23(1): 123–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daniel, P. 2013. Dispossession: Discrimination against African American farmers in the age of civil rights. Chapel Hill: UNC Press Books.Google Scholar
  9. Dimitri, C., A.B. Effland, and N.C. Conklin. 2005. The 20th century transformation of US agriculture and farm policy, vol. 3. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.Google Scholar
  10. DuPuis, E.M. 2002. Nature’s perfect food: How milk became America’s drink. New York: NYU Press.Google Scholar
  11. Farm Service Agency. 2015. Actively engaged in farming. www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/payment-eligibility/actively_engaged/index. Farm Service Agency Programs and Services. Accessed September 5, 2015.
  12. Feldman, S., and R. Welsh. 1995. Feminist knowledge claims, local knowledge, and gender divisions of agricultural labor: Constructing a successor science. Rural Sociology 60: 23–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foley, N. 1997. The white scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and poor Whites in Texas cotton culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Guthman, J. and S. Brown. 2015. I will never eat another strawberry again: The biopolitics of consumer-citizenship in the fight against methyl iodide in California. Agriculture and Human Values 1–11.Google Scholar
  15. Gilbert, J. 2015. Planning democracy: Agrarian intellectuals and the intended New Deal. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gilbert, J., G. Sharp, and M. Sindy Felin. 2002. The loss and persistence of black-owned farmland: A review of the research literature and its implications. Southern Rural Sociology. 18(2): 1–30.Google Scholar
  17. Gray, M. 2013. Labor and the locavore: The making of a comprehensive food ethic. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Grim, V. 1996. Black participation in the farmers home administration and agricultural stabilization and conservation service, 1964–1990. Agricultural History 70(2): 321–336.Google Scholar
  19. Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims and Resolution Process. 2012. https://www.farmerclaims.gov. Informational website for the hispanic and women farmers and ranchers claims resolution process. Accessed 19 Dec 2015.
  20. Holmes, S. 2013. Fresh fruit, broken bodies: Migrant farmworkers in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Martinez, J., and R. E. Gomez. 2011. Identifying barriers that prevent hispanic/latino farmers & ranchers in Washington State from Participating in USDA Programs and Services. Rural Community Development Resources (RCDR) Center for Latino Farmers. Yakima.Google Scholar
  22. Matsumoto, V.J. 1993. Farming the home place: A Japanese American community in California, 1919–1982. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Minkoff-Zern, L.A., N. Peluso, J. Sowerwine, and C. Getz. 2011. Race and regulation: Asian immigrants in California Agriculture. In Cultivating food justice: Race, class and sustainability, ed. A. Alkon, and J. Agyeman, 65–85. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mitchell, D. 1996. The lie of the land: Migrant workers and the California landscape. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  25. Payne Jr., W.C. 1991. Institutional discrimination in agriculture programs. Rural Sociologist 11(1): 16–18.Google Scholar
  26. Ponder, H. 1971. Prospects for black farmers in the years ahead. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 53(2): 297–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reed, D.B., S.C. Westneat, S.R. Browning, and L. Skarke. 1999. The hidden work of the farm homemaker. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 5(3): 317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Riley, M. 2009. Bringing the ‘invisible farmer’ into sharper focus: Gender relations and agricultural practices in the Peak District (UK). Gender, Place and Culture 16(6): 665–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sbicca, J. 2015. Food labor, economic inequality, and the imperfect politics of process in the alternative food movement. Agriculture and Human Values 32(4): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scott, J.C. 1998. Seeing like a state: How certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Simon, M. F. 1993. Addressing the Problems of Agency Utilization by Kentucky’s Black Limited Resource Farmers: Case Studies. In Challenges in agriculture and rural development. Proceedings of the 50th annual professional agricultural workers conference, ed R. Zabawa, N. Baharanyi, and W. Hill. Tuskegee, 129–134. Tuskegee University.Google Scholar
  32. Sowerwine, J., C. Getz, and N. Peluso. 2015. The Myth of the Protected Worker: Southeast Asian Micro-Farmers in California Agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values 32(4): 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. United States Department of Agriculture. 2014. Census of agriculture. www.agcensus.usda.gov. Accessed 2 Nov 2015.
  34. United States Department of Agriculture. 2015. Secretary Vilsack’s Efforts to Address Discrimination at USDA (OASCR, Vilsack’s Efforts to Address Discrimination at USDA) http://www.ascr.usda.gov/cr_at_usda.html. Accessed Online 6 Jan 2015.
  35. Vilsack, T. J. 2009. Memo to all USDA employees: A new civil rights era for USDA. USDA Department of the Secretary. http://www.usda.gov/documents/NewCivilRightsEra.pdf. Accessed Online 15 Nov 2015.
  36. Wells, M.J. 1991. Ethnic groups and knowledge systems in agriculture. Economic Development and Cultural Change 39(4): 739–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wells, M.J. 1996. Strawberry fields: Politics, class, and work in California agriculture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Zippert, J. 2015. USDA approves only 14% of completed claims in the Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Discrimination Settlement. Greene County Democrat. http://greenecountydemocrat.com/?p=14384. Accessed Online 15 Nov 2015.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health, Food Studies, and Nutrition, David B. Falk College of Sport and Human DynamicsSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.BaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations