The number of principal operators of U.S. farms who are people of color grew by 15% from 2007 to 2012. More than half of that increase came from growth in the number of Hispanic farmers.
While the number of U.S. farmers decreased in the latest Census of Agriculture, the number of farmers who are ethnic minorities was on the rise.
The Department of Agriculture released its preliminary report on the 2012 ag census in February. We’ll have to wait until May to look at county-level data from the report, which comes out every five years. But the preliminary numbers show that an increasing number of people of color are farming.
The trend mirrors changes in the nation’s overall population figures.
The number of “minority” farmers (defined as principal operators who are Hispanic, American Indian, black and Asian) increased by about 21,000 farmers, or 15%, from 2007 to 2012. There were about 154,000 farmers who were minorities in 2012, the survey found.
Hispanics represented more than half of the increase in minority-operated farms. The number of Hispanic farmers increased by 11,000 from 2007 to 2012, a jump of just less than 22%. There were 67,000 Hispanic principal farm operators in 2012, the census showed.
Asian U.S. farmers also saw an increase of about 22% during the period, rising from 11,214 to 13,699.
The number of black farmers grew by 9% to about 13,700. The number of American Indian farmers also grew by 9%, reaching 37,857.
Overall, people of color were the principal operators of about 7.3% of the nation’s farms in 2012. That’s up about 1.2 points from the 2007 survey.
The overall number of farms in the U.S. fell from 2.2 million to about 2.1 million from 2007 to 2012, the census showed.