Cultivating Success on Immigrant-Owned Farms
The New Face of Washington Agriculture
Results from the 2002 Census of Agriculture show that immigrants are the fastest growing demographic sector of U.S. farmers. While many other segments of agriculture were declining, between 1997 and 2002, the proportion of U.S. farms reporting "Spanish, Hispanic or Latino" principal operators grew from 1.51 percent to 2.37 percent. In Washington, Spanish, Hispanic and Latino principal operators now comprise 3.08 percent of Washington farms, up from 2.4 percent in 1997.
Washington also has growing numbers of Hmong farmers. Although none of these farms were counted in the last Census of Agriculture, the WSU Small Farms Program has identified 99 Hmong families farming in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties. Increasing numbers of Sumatran and Ethiopian farmers are also making Washington their home. Immigrant farmers live in diverse areas of the state and produce a wide array of crops for sale in direct and wholesale markets. While many immigrants are highly skilled in agriculture and are passionate about farming, they often have limited access to basic resources such as land, water, and farm financing. Finding ways to support this new generation of aspiring farmers will be critical to preserving the future vitality of Washington's agriculture and rural communities.
|Hmong Farmer Programs and Resources