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Minority Farmers Hard To Find Across Oregon

A Martin Luther King Day  survey of agriculture shows relatively little diversity in a key Oregon industry. April Baer reports.

Last year the Oregon Farm Service Agency provided close to $8 million in loans and guarantees to a class of farmers and ranchers called Socially Disadvantaged applicants. 

Those include groups that were legally barred from owning farmland in Oregon’s early days.  They include Latinos, Native Americans, African-Americans and Asian Americans.

Overall, minority-owned farms  still make up less than three percent of the state’s total.  Only about eighty black farmers are working in the entire state.

Bruce Pokarney is with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Bruce Pokarney “We do know Latinos are the largest group of farmers in Oregon, but we’ve seen that drop a little.”

In 2008, there were 1600 Latino-owned farms. Last year that number fell to 1300. Pokarney says the number of farms in the state decreased overall by several thousand over the last five years.

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