Down on the farm?

by on August 17, 2014 at 8:27 am in Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

Farming businesses in the United States are still dominated by whites, but Mr. Flores (whose last name means “flowers” in English) is one of a growing number of Latinos who own or operate farms in the country. While the overall number of farms in the United States decreased by 4 percent from 2007 to 2012, during the same period the number of farms run by Hispanics increased by 21 percent to 67,000 from 55,570, according to data released in May from the government’s 2012 census of agriculture. The numbers signaled a small but consistent pattern of growth in agribusiness among Latinos, many of whom have gone from working in the fields to sitting in the head offices.

Many, like Mr. Flores, emigrated from Mexico in the 1970s and ’80s and worked their way up from picking produce to managing the business. They have classic American bootstrap stories of grit, determination and a little bit of luck. Some own the land they till while others rent. Many employ Mexicans whose language and job duties they understand intimately.

That is from Tanzina Vega, there is more here.

1 Thomas August 17, 2014 at 8:39 am

Those poor, exploited field workers.

2 DJF August 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

So who pays for these Mexicans medical care and schooling for their kids? Those poor, exploited taxpayers?

3 ThomasH August 18, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Why do you think there are bad investments for taxpayers?

4 dearieme August 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

“many of whom have gone from working in the fields to sitting in the head offices”: whenIwasbutalad, farms didn’t have head offices.

5 andrew' August 17, 2014 at 9:38 am

“Many employ Mexicans…” There is a lot to unpack in there.

6 BC August 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

From the article:

“The majority of Hispanic-owned agricultural businesses are family-run…he employs his daughters to help him run the business…. [The] president of Fernandez Brothers…expects his 19-year-old son to go into the business.

Some of the younger, second- or third-generation Hispanics entering the industry have advanced degrees in agriculture or business.”

Some people would call this the American Dream. Others nowadays would say this is another example of rich CEOs’ children getting all the internship opportunities and educational advantages. When these second- and third-generation Hispanics stay in the same top-quantile income bracket as their parents’, will that be another example of decreasing “income mobility”?

Also, I am confused as to how these farmworkers became presidents of their businesses. Since unions are responsible for all workers’ gains, were these promotions part of some union contract?

7 Errorr August 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

I wonder if immigrants tend to take over in the industries they are employed in. Reminds me of the article on Sikh families taking over parmesan production in Lombardy when they started at as the dairy workers and expanded. That was linked by tyler here:

8 Anon August 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

Also lot of Sikhs in agriculture in Central California.

9 Marty Manley August 17, 2014 at 10:54 am

“Flores means flowers in English?”. Funny, I’d have suspected Spanish…

10 happyjuggler0 August 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm


11 HL August 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

so hispanics own roughly 12k more farms, how many is this in relation to the total amount of farms?

12 HL August 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

(answer in a link, but still lazy writing)

13 Handle August 17, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Even the number of farms is not very informative, since farming operations have vastly different scales. If a Hispanic-owned farm is next to a White-owned one that is 40 times bigger, what sense does it make to say, “Fully half of the farms are Hispanic owned.”

14 HL August 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

good point

15 Vernunft August 17, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Farming is hard, unrewarding work, so we’re condemning these poor Latinos to wage slavery! Right? Oh, that was yesterday; today it’s a good thing. Can I have the Identity Politics agenda for tomorrow, so I know if we’ve always been at war with Latino Farmers?

16 ThomasH August 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Perhaps when word gets out about how much each subsidy each vaca receives, the Tea Party will roust itself in righteous Libertarian wrath.

17 Axa August 18, 2014 at 7:06 am

I wonder if mexican’s relationship with GMO’s is different to others. This can be produce land ownership shifts sooner than later.

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