TULARE, Calif. — Latinos have been the largest ethnic group in California since 2014 and make up an even larger portion of the population in many of California’s farming regions. To support the entry of Latinos into agriculture, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will hold the fifth-annual Latino Farmer Conference in November. The event will be held on Tuesday, November 19, at the Tulare Ag Center.
Omar Rodriguez, a sustainable agriculture specialist for NCAT, said the conference – conducted entirely in Spanish – provides a wide range of information for beginning and seasoned farmers. Sessions focus primarily on conservation strategies and practices that help farmers become sustainable. This year, sessions will also include information on financing for beginning farmers, pathways to ownership, marketing, healthy soils and water regulations that will affect farmers in coming years.
Besides the workshops, there will be about 30 exhibitors on hand who provide services of all kinds to farmers.
“The primary audience of the conference are California farmers, but it’s useful for anyone in the field,” Rodriguez said. “Attendees also include farmworkers, service providers and industry representatives, who take advantage of the topics covered and our unique audience.”
While farming in California is trending toward large-scale operations, there are still small farmers scattered around the state. Rodriguez said hot spots include portions of the Central Valley, the Central Coast and the foothills of the Sierras. The fastest growing population of farmers throughout the state are Latinos who are transitioning from farmworkers to farmers.
Farm Credit is committed to supporting diversity in agriculture, said Mark Littlefield, the president and CEO of Farm Credit West. That’s why California’s Farm Credit associations are sponsoring the Latino Farmer Conference for the fifth straight year.
“With strong support from sponsoring organizations, NCAT and NRCS are able to keep registration fees extremely low, enabling a wide range of prospective farmers to attend,” Littlefield said. “The conference is expected to draw approximately 300 participants this year and Farm Credit is proud to help make this possible.”
“Sponsors like Farm Credit are essential,” Rodriguez said. “We lean on them heavily to keep our registration costs as low as we can, and their longstanding support has been very helpful.”
This year, participating Farm Credit organizations are American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit.
— Farm Credit
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