The Latino Agricultural Entrepreneurship Project (LAEP) is designed to explore the needs of Latino farmers, to understand their unique livelihood strategies, and better prepare agencies to work with Latino farmers. The project is led by faculty from the University of Missouri, Michigan State University, and Iowa State University. This three-year integrated research and extension project will study the diversity of Latino agricultural livelihood strategies—from established farmers to emerging farmers, and those interested in becoming farmers—and the agricultural networks that support farming, to identify the capacities needed to improve access to existing knowledge and financial resources in Iowa, Michigan and Missouri.
While the number of the nation’s farmers and total farmland are decreasing, there has been a growth in the number of Hispanic operators nationally and in the Midwest. It is important to the nation’s agricultural production to ensure a stable or growing population of farm operators with sustainable livelihoods, and Latino farm-entrepreneurs are a growing sector of that population.
Given the Latino population growth in the Midwest, and especially in rural areas, we seek to understand how Latinos move into farming, the nature of their connections to the existing institutions and organizations that support the agricultural system, and the particular capacity needs that must be addressed by key stakeholders to actively engage them. As the nation’s agricultural industry continues to undergo demographic changes, it is critical that we increase our understanding of how Latino farmers seek to improve the success of their farms and develop bridges to the resources they need to be successful.