Knowledge for better food systems

Immigration, race, and the struggle for sustainability

This book describes the experiences of a growing minority of Latino/a immigrant farm owners in the United States. According to the book, many of these people use farming practices from their home countries, such as growing several crops at the same time or using integrated pest management.

Publisher’s summary

An examination of Latino/a immigrant farmers as they transition from farmworkers to farm owners that offers a new perspective on racial inequity and sustainable farming.

Although the majority of farms in the United States have US-born owners who identify as white, a growing number of new farmers are immigrants, many of them from Mexico, who originally came to the United States looking for work in agriculture. In The New American Farmer, Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern explores the experiences of Latino/a immigrant farmers as they transition from farmworkers to farm owners, offering a new perspective on racial inequity and sustainable farming. She finds that many of these new farmers rely on farming practices from their home countries—including growing multiple crops simultaneously, using integrated pest management, maintaining small-scale production, and employing family labour—most of which are considered alternative farming techniques in the United States.

Drawing on extensive interviews with farmers and organisers, Minkoff-Zern describes the social, economic, and political barriers immigrant farmers must overcome, from navigating USDA bureaucracy to racialised exclusion from opportunities. She discusses, among other topics, the history of discrimination against farm labourers in the United States; the invisibility of Latino/a farmers to government and universities; new farmers' sense of agrarian and racial identity; and the future of the agrarian class system.

Minkoff-Zern argues that immigrant farmers, with their knowledge and experience of alternative farming practices, are—despite a range of challenges—actively and substantially contributing to the movement for an ecological and sustainable food system. Scholars and food activists should take notice.

 

Reference

Minkoff-Zern, L.-A. (2019). The New American Farmer: Immigration, Race, and the Struggle for Sustainability. MIT Press, Cambridge.

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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