New Funding for Outreach to Latino Farmers

09/1/2012

Pedro Bautista is a successful blueberry grower in Van Buren County. Photo courtesy of Patty Cantrell. (view larger image)

Pedro Bautista is a successful blueberry grower in Van Buren County. Photo courtesy of Patty Cantrell.

Michigan is a hot spot for many trends in the new Good Food economy, from urban agriculture to farmers’ markets that are able to process EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards. Another is the rising diversity of Michigan’s farm owners and operators, including the fact that Michigan has more Latino farmers than any state beyond those in the West and Southwest.

Helping Michigan’s Latino farmers participate more fully and effectively in the state’s agricultural sector is the mission of the La Siembra (the Sowing) project at Michigan State University. A new USDA grant to La Siembra, announced in August, provides an important boost to its work bridging cultural and language barriers to technical and financial resources.

Project manager and MSU assistant professor David Mota-Sanchez reports La Siembra has already seen progress from its outreach over the past three years. He said that one USDA Farm Service Agency partner, for example, told him that his office previously had zero Latino loan applicants. “Now they’re seeing an increasing number,” Mota-Sanchez said.

With the new funding La Siembra will be able to provide needed training in integrated pest management and food safety and to bring Latino farmers and staff from different USDA agencies in closer contact. The project will also soon have a Web site with resources for Latino farmers. For more information, contact Mota-Sanchez at <.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)>.