Changing The Face of Farming


The last USDA Census of Agriculture found that the agricultural scene is predominantly made up of white men age 45 to 65. Some farmer demographics are changing though, and as more and more people wake up to understanding positive ways that we can take back our food system for our health, we’re excited to see a new era in farming diversity from the way things are grown to the people who grow it.

We found some news this week highlighting those changes and explaining how and why they are important.

The aforementioned USDA census also found that only 14% of principal operators on farms are women. Compare that to the 43% of women who are principal farmers in the developing world. Danielle Nierenberg and Sarah Small of Food Tank recently debuted a new video on the importance of supporting these women. Referencing facts from FAO, GFAR and Unicef reports they let us know that:

If access to new technology and resources is made available to women farmers, yields could increase by 20 to 30 percent and could reduce the number of hungry people in world by 100 to 150 million people. When women have the right tools, they have limitless potential."

Check out the inspiring video and read more Nierenberg and Small’s fabulously written (as always) piece on how supporting women farmers can change the world in many positive ways.  

Let’s go back one more time to that Census, which also found that Latino operated farms were up by 21%. Tanzina Vega of the New York Times chronicles the stories of a number of Latino farm workers turned entrepreneurs and gives a nod to how opportunities in agriculture are expanding for the the Latino population. Quoting Charles Boyer, the dean of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno:

First-generation farmworkers have worked their way up in terms of responsibility, and now we see many of their children going on to have the opportunity to pursue higher education. . . These people are increasingly seeing that agriculture has a very wide window of opportunity from the business side to the quality-control side to the science side.”

And, as opportunities arise for some, there are still plenty of people who need advocacy and action in the world of agriculture. Luckily, there are plenty of groups doing just that. Helen Long of Permaculture News showcases 10 fantastic environmental justice oriented cooperatives and non-profits that are empowering community members and changing the livelihoods of people. For instance:

The Green Belt Movement was founded in Kenya by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. It is a network of 4,000 community groups who plant trees protect public spaces, create sustainable livelihoods and climate resilient communities. The organizations provide education for community, environmental and gender empowerment, and engage with policymakers at an international level."

And finally, for some news about innovative farming techniques, that we may or may not see more of in the future, check out these reads about swimming pool gardens and the abundance of produce that is possible on an island in the Arctic Ocean.

The face of food is changing, Warriors! Let’s keep it moving in the right direction.

PHOTO: thank you to CIMMYT on flickr


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson 

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