In this article we investigate how Latino immigrant farmers in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States navigate United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, which necessitate standardizing farming practices and an acceptance of bureaucracy for participation. We show how Latino immigrant farmers’ agrarian norms and practices are at odds with the state’s requirement for agrarian standardization. This interview-based study builds on existing historical analyses of farmers of color in the United States, and the ways in which their farming practices and racialized identities are often unseen by and illegible to the state. This disjuncture leads to the increased racial exclusion of immigrant farmers from USDA opportunities. Such exclusions impede the transition to a “new era of civil rights,” as has been proclaimed by USDA leadership. Although efforts to address institutionalized racism on a national level may be genuine, they have failed to acknowledge this schism between rural Latino immigrants and the state, thereby inhibiting a meaningful transition in the fields, and continuing a legacy of unequal access to agrarian opportunities for non-white immigrant farmers.
Agriculture and Human Values – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 10, 2016
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