Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putting the Pieces Together

A recent post observed the possible shortage of workers for agricultural harvests. In yet another post Iris Dement's “Our Town” was nominated as the “anthem for American rural life and its slow decline.” While both appear separate and apart from the other they nonetheless share concrete influences and commonalities.

Specifically immigrants and domestic minorities groups are fundamentally critical to the success of the sector as the Agricultural Census, historical data and the expressed shortages illustrate. Yet notwithstanding Dement’s rueful refrain recent data also illustrates they are also becoming owner operators of small independent farming operations in increasing numbers.
Purchasing long failed rural operations census data reveals farming as an enterprise is rising for operators of color subsequent to their transitions into new regions. In many settings both domestic and immigrant population groups working with retired owner operators are also purchasing farming operations.

The increase of diverse groups results in part from their long historical ties to land and farming. Attendant to their purchases that refute Dement’s sad refrain they are revitalizing declining and stale rural communities. For those concerned with the cost and benefits of price supports and the full range of subsidies extended larger corporate enterprises an opportunity is thereby emerging across this new agricultural landscape.

In contrast to the norm in agriculture federal subsidies are not sustaining the newer class of owner operators and yet many are succeeding. In Michigan they are top producers of blueberries for example and often travel to surrounding cities to sell their products.

The economics of their ventures thus could prove of value when contemplating the appropriate role of subsidies in agriculture.

--Guadalupe Luna

(Posted by Morgan Holcomb on behalf of Guadalupe Luna)