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Image: Farm Economy

Socially Disadvantaged Farmers: Race, Hispanic Origin & Gender

Most farm operators are men. Although only about 10 percent of principal farm operators are women (see table on the characteristics of principal farm operator households, by gender of principal operator, 2011 Excel icon (16x16) ), that number represents a significant increase from as recently as 25 years ago, when less than 5 percent of principal farm operators were women. Women generally operate farms that are smaller than average. Once primarily focused on beef cattle production, female principal operators have diversified their farm operations over the past two decades to include horses, aquaculture, and fur-bearing animals. Many farms, more than 40 percent, report more than one operator, and, in most of these cases, the additional operators are women and spouses of principal operators (see table on the characteristics of principal farm operator households, by type of management team, 2011  Excel icon (16x16) ). When all operators are considered—not just the single principal operator of a farm—more than 30 percent of U.S. farm operators are women.

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About three-quarters of the general U.S. population is classified as being solely White (i.e., White alone and of all ethnic origins). Farm operators are much more likely than the general population to report being White. In 2007, 95.9 percent of principal operators reported being White, and 2.5 percent reported being of Hispanic origin. There is overlap in these characteristics; 93.5 percent reported being White, not of Hispanic origin. Annual information is not available on more detailed racial categories because of the small population of non-White farmers available in USDA's annual survey. However, every 5 years, the Census of Agriculture seeks to contact all farmers, so more detailed racial breakdowns are provided by that data source. The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that Blacks or African Americans were 1.4 percent of all principal operators. American Indians or Alaska natives (1.6 percent), Asians (0.5 percent), native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (0.1 percent), and those reporting more than one race (0.6 percent) made up the remainder. Most Hispanic operators (93 percent) reported their race as White.

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Last updated: Monday, November 25, 2013

For more information contact: James Williamson

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