The study findings are divided into three subsections. The first and second subsections correspond to the information collected from Latinx farmers and agricultural educators, respectively. In each subsection, demographic characteristics are described, followed by selected topics resulting from data analysis of each group’s interviews. The third subsection is a comparison of the topics that were discussed with both groups.
3.1. Latinx Farmers in Pennsylvania
A total of 17 Latinx farmers (N = 17) were interviewed. They resided in 8 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties: Washington (n = 1), Butler (n = 1), Centre (n = 3), Cameron (n = 1), Adams (n = 7), Chester (n = 2), Lehigh (n = 1), and Philadelphia (n = 1). Figure 1
shows the distribution of Hispanic producers in the state, as well as the location of Latinx farmers participating in this study.
3.1.1. Demographic Characteristics
Fifteen Latinx farmer participants were men (n = 15), and two were women (n = 2). Their ages ranged from between 27 and 65 years old, with an average age of 43. The majority were first-generation immigrants (88.23%, n = 15) from Mexico (n = 11), Colombia (n = 2), Brazil (n = 1), and Honduras (n = 1). The two remaining participants were born in the US, with origins in Argentina and Spain. Of these, one participant belonged to the second generation living in the US, and the other had been in the US for at least three generations.
The highest educational level achieved varied from ‘less than high school’ (n = 6) to ‘high school completed’ (n = 4), ‘some college’ (n = 2), and ‘completed a four-year university degree’ (n = 5).
English proficiency was self-reported in three areas: speaking, reading, and writing. Three categories (poor, average, and well) were provided as options within these areas. ‘Average’ was the highest reported category for speaking (n = 9, 52.94%) and reading (n = 8, 47.06%). More than half of the participants reported ‘poor’ English writing proficiency (n = 9, 52.94%). In all three areas, the second most common category selected was ‘well’ (speaking = 29.41%, reading= 35.29%, writing= 29.41%). This reflects that most participants felt more confident speaking and reading than writing in English.
3.1.2. Agricultural Background
Twelve participants (70.6%) indicated that their parents were farmers or involved in agricultural businesses, and five (29.4%) said that their parents were not involved in agriculture. In addition, most participants (n = 15, 88.2%) had more than 7 years of experience in farming, one person had 3–7 years of experience, and one person had less than 3 years of experience.
During the interviews, those from farming families indicated that they had helped their parents with farm activities since they were children or young adults living in their home countries. Three Latinx farmers had agriculture-related college degrees (e.g., agronomy and veterinary science). Additionally, two participants worked as Extension educators in their home countries. While in the US, others had worked in non-agricultural industries (e.g., construction, factories, or independently) but eventually returned to agriculture. Some were farm employees promoted to management positions or had started their own agricultural businesses.
3.1.3. Farming Roles
Not all Latinx interviewees who identified as farmers owned a farm. Some were aspiring farmers, meaning that they initiated efforts to start a farm, and others were operators, meaning that they had management responsibilities for a farm (except for financial aspects) but did not own the business. In this section, we explore these three different roles. These roles were not mutually exclusive and could overlap because individuals participated in two or all three of these roles.
Six participants (35%) were classified as ‘farmers’ because farming was their primary occupation. Three had horticultural operations, one was a dairy farmer, one was a mushroom grower, and one was a forester. The horticulture farmers sold their products directly to consumers.
Three participants (18%) were classified as ‘aspiring farmers’ because their primary occupation was not farming or operating a farm. Two of these were farm employees at commercial orchards, and one worked in a company related to food importation. They were actively searching for opportunities to start farming operations in Pennsylvania.
None of the interviewees were solely operators. All participants who managed a farm without being owners were either farming independently or aspired to farm independently. This means that they were grouped in a combined role. One participant (6%) was an aspiring farmer and farmer, because they were a farm employee and also maintained a large garden and a few animals at their home, mainly for self-consumption. In the past, they sold their produce and livestock and aspired to become a full-time farmer.
Another participant (6%) was characterized as a farmer and operator, because they were the production manager of a large operation that they did not own. They also grew and sold crops in Pennsylvania and their home country outside of the operation for which they worked.
Four participants (24%) were classified as aspiring farmers and operators because they managed farms in Pennsylvania but also actively desired starting their own farms. Two were fully responsible for managing an orchard and vegetable farm, respectively, and two worked at the same commercial orchard, each having specific management responsibilities.
Finally, two participants (12%) fit into all three roles: farmer, aspiring farmer, and operator. This was because they were primary managers of agricultural operations, but they also had their own agricultural businesses (usually a small-scale operation) that they wished to expand and therein become full-time farmers. One worked at a dairy farm as an operator, maintained their own beef cattle that were sold occasionally, and wanted to expand this business. The other person also worked at a dairy farm, had a large garden in which they grew different agricultural crops, and raised different livestock species, some of which were raised and sold by their children.
3.1.4. Products and Farm Characteristics
In the questionnaire, Latinx participants selected their first and second agricultural products of interest. Most participants (n = 14) were growing or interested in growing horticultural crops, such as vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms (Table 3
). One was involved in dairy, one in livestock, and one in timber products. The second most mentioned products were field crops (n = 5), livestock (n = 4), ornamental plants (n = 3), and dairy (n = 1).
Regarding farm characteristics, most participants (n = 10) were involved or interested in individual operations (sole or family) and in family-held corporations (n = 5). At the same time, one person had a legal partnership (with a family member). Those whose primary role was farmer (n = 6) were growing their products on between half and 162 hectares. A question about specific farming practices (conventional, organic, etc.) was not included; however, participants talked about this during an open interview question. Participants were involved or interested in a wide range of farm characteristics and agricultural practices, from large-acreage commercial operations to small-scale self-sufficient farms. None of the farms were certified organic. Additionally, labor needs were mostly met by the participants or their family members. They grew diverse products, including some traditional ones from their home countries for those born outside of the US, and these products were usually hand-harvested.
3.1.5. Correlation of Demographic Characteristics and Farming Role
A bivariate Pearson correlation test at significant levels of 0.05 and 0.001 was conducted using SPSS to determine if the participants’ demographic characteristics correlated to their farming role: farmer, aspiring farmer, or operator. Profiles were analyzed independently, not considering a combination of roles. Individuals were independently counted for each of their combined roles.
Being a farmer was positively and significantly correlated with self-reported English proficiency in speaking (r = 0.499, p = 0.041), reading (r = 0.548, p = 0.023), and writing (r = 0.594, p = 0.012). Education level and role as a farmer, although positively correlated (r = 0.239), were not significant (p = 0.355). Being an aspiring farmer was significantly negatively correlated with education level (r = −0.632, p = 0.006) and self-reported English proficiency in speaking (r = −0.562, p = 0.019), reading (r = −0.637, p = 0.006) and writing (r = −0.906, p < 0.0001). Similar to the aspiring farmer role, being an operator had a significant negative correlation with education level (r = −0.627, p = 0.007).
These findings generally indicate that those who were already farming in some capacity had a good self-reported English proficiency level. Aspiring farmers and operators were more likely to have low levels of education. In addition, the lower the self-reported English proficiency level, the more likely the respondents were to be aspiring farmers.
3.1.6. Motivations to Farm
In the questionnaire, all 17 participants indicated the main reason they farm is that they ‘enjoy farming,’ followed by ‘way to earn money’ (n = 13), ‘want to own my own business’ (n = 12), ‘tradition in my family’ (n = 10), and ‘other’ (n = 4) (Figure 2
). Two of the participants that selected ‘other’ explained that they mainly farm to help their people, referring to other Hispanics or Latinxs. One person mentioned that many newcomers to the area have very low income and are at risk of food insecurity, so they provide produce either for free or at a very low cost. The other person said that one of the main reasons they farm is to help other Latinxs by generating work by offering employment opportunities. Another participant saw farming as an activity connecting them with their home country, which is the main reason they farm in Pennsylvania.
The participants’ answers fell into the thematic categories of simplicity and experience when discussing the reasons for raising certain products. ‘Easy to raise or sell’ was the most common answer. One farmer said that vegetables are easier to grow than livestock because vegetables require fewer facilities and thus are also less expensive to produce. Others mentioned that they grow whatever sells fast, and what consumers demand. ‘Knowledge or experience’ of a particular product was another common reason for raising certain products.
During the interviews, Latinx farmers were asked about their goals for their agricultural businesses. Their responses were coded into themes (Table 4
). Overall, the most common goal was to ‘expand their business’ by gaining more land for production or increasing their markets by selling more or for a longer timeframe. ‘Diversification’ was the second most mentioned theme, which indicates an interest in growing new products. Three indicated they would prefer to ‘farm somewhere else’, either back in their home countries for those born outside the US, or in another US state. A couple of the participants shared their goals to make their farms a ‘destination or an education farm’, where they would grow food and involve the community in tours or learning at the farm. ‘Buying one’s own land’ was a goal mentioned twice. Other goals mentioned once included ‘to be known’, ‘to export’, ‘to be successful’, ‘operating without debt’, ‘implement production technology’, ‘having an internship program’, ‘selling land’ because there is no one in their family to transition their farm to, ‘to start farming’, ‘to continue gaining experience’, ‘to work and save money’, and ‘to satisfy clients’.
In several cases, the goal of expansion was related to diversification. One of the participants said, “we would like to be able to have a bigger place to have a more versatile business, not just the (product)”. Similarly, expansion meant increasing market possibilities and introducing value-added products, such as dehydrated food and salsas, as shared by one farmer.
3.1.7. Main Challenges
Challenges were overall factors that kept participants from meeting their goals, problems related to raising their products, barriers to starting their farming operations, and other issues mentioned during the interviews.
In the questionnaire, participants were given options to select the two most important factors that kept them from meeting their goals. Overall, ‘access to operational resources’ was the most cited factor (n = 12), followed by ‘financial aspects’ (n = 10), ‘marketing’ (n = 5), ‘knowing about programs and information’ (n = 2), and ‘others’ (n = 2), which included transportation for moving livestock, and uncertainty about when financial support from government programs will arrive. ‘Government regulations’ and ‘time’ each received one mention. In six cases, ‘access to resources’ and ‘financial aspects’ were mentioned together.
During the interview, participants were asked about their main production problems. Their responses were coded into seven themes (the number of mentions is indicated in parenthesis): ‘pests and diseases’ (n = 5), ‘marketing’ (n = 4), ‘weather’ (n = 3), ‘labor’ (n = 1), ‘adaptation practices’ (n = 1), ‘finding professional advice’ (n = 1), and ‘profits’ (n = 1). Farmers talked about crop damage caused by pests and diseases, and the need to know how to identify and manage them. Similarly, the weather was considered a challenge because of its effect on production. Regarding marketing, farmers discussed the need to know where and how to sell, especially as they increased their production. One farmer indicated that initially, marketing their products was not easy, and the profit of their first-year farming was only USD 300. This resonated with the concern of an aspiring farmer, who is actively searching for opportunities to start farming but is worried about risking their family’s current source of income.
For aspiring farmers, most of the challenges in starting farming are related to financial constraints. An aspiring farmer said that it is difficult to adventure into an agricultural project without financial security for a few months, because they have family commitments, rent to pay, etc., but at the same time, they want to try it before they lose enthusiasm. Concerning momentum, an operator and aspiring farmer said they feel youth is exploited in the US. Once people reach a certain age, jobs are unavailable, so they must find other work, inferring the need to start a business. Another operator/aspiring farmer sees their immigration status as a huge barrier restricting them from obtaining loans and becoming independent. Finally, a farmer was looking to buy more land to expand their farm but was struggling to invest because they were paying for their children’s college education, and obtaining a loan was not part of their plan.
Other challenges were mentioned at various stages of the interview. For example, two people talked about their lack of knowledge about renting or buying land. With respect to buying, one shared the following:
I think it’s hard because, at least my land, I have six more years on my lease. And so, after that, I’ll be 40 and maybe have nothing or something. I think it’s a little scary to think about that. I don’t know how to buy land. I’ve never bought anything like that before, so that feels really intimidating and scary to me. So, I feel there’s a lot of question marks I guess about further in the future.
Reliable transportation was another challenge for one vegetable farmer since they must travel about 2.5 h to transport their crops to the market weekly. Growing new crops was also a challenge in meeting consumer demand. Adapting practices to the production season in Pennsylvania and using season-extending technologies was also a concern for an aspiring farmer, alongside finding reliable labor.
3.1.8. Implementing Solutions and Learning about Problems
Participants in the Latinx farmers group shared what they do to solve their issues or challenges, including where they go to attain help.
Eight people said they search for information through different channels. The most common channels were Penn State Extension (n = 5) and other farmers (n = 4). Participants often did not refer directly to Penn State Extension, but to people or programs within it. When discussing reaching out to other farmers, participants referred to Latinx farmers in other US states that they see as their mentors, or they were confident that farmers of different ethnicities and races in Pennsylvania would support them with advice (even their current employers for those aspiring to farm). Most participants did not know other Latinx farmers in Pennsylvania. Other sources of information included particular people within agricultural organizations such as Pasa Sustainable Agriculture and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and independent consultants. Internet searches (Google; https://www.google.com
(accessed on 1 April 2023) were another source of information mentioned.
Five people explained that they solve issues by implementing recommended agricultural practices. They mentioned using pesticides, sanitation practices, and crop rotation. Even when using pesticides, one farmer emphasized using cultural management strategies and organic pesticides when possible. However, they struggled to control some pests, and use conventional pesticides minimally.
Two people indicated that they solve the issues as they occur and know what to do or where to go for support.
One aspiring farmer said they would like to focus on their professional development because they see that their bosses have specialized knowledge in agriculture, and therefore, know about the problems that can occur, including how to counteract and mitigate issues. They also mentioned that their father, who is in their home country, was having an issue with a crop; the aspiring farmer knew how to manage the issue in Pennsylvania, but their father had to hire a local consultant for advice specific to his area. Therefore, the aspiring farmer would like to invest in their own education instead of paying someone else for agricultural information.
3.2. Agricultural Educators
Twelve agricultural educators were interviewed via phone. They were all professionals who were employed by land-grant universities or government agencies that support farmers by providing non-formal agriculture education.
3.2.1. Characteristics and Nature of Work
Except for gender, demographic characteristics were not collected to avoid displaying potentially identifiable information. By gender, participants equally represented women (n = 6) and men (n = 6). Most participants (n = 7) spoke, wrote, read, and listened well in Spanish. The five remaining had various levels of Spanish proficiency for each ability area. Overall, speaking was the most deficient area, with four out of five reporting their ability as poor. Listening was only offered as an option after a participant asked about it, so not everyone reported their ability in this area. Three out of four educators reported that their listening skills were average or above average. One person indicated theirs was poor.
Some participants had just started working with Latinx farmers, while others had over ten years of experience. They shared that their work was concentrated in one geographic area of Pennsylvania (n = 5) or statewide (n = 7). For those that work in one geographic area, this was either the eastern or southeastern part of the state, because that is where most of the Latinx population is concentrated (Figure 1
). Those that indicated their work was statewide either had statewide appointments or collaborated in other parts of the state to serve Latinx audiences. However, even those with statewide appointments acknowledged that they focus more on the southeastern part of the state when creating programming for Latinx or Spanish-speaking audiences.
The topics of their programs fell into one or more of four content areas: business and entrepreneurship, horticultural production practices, dairy, and conservation. Topics included marketing and business practices (starting a business, developing a business plan, agricultural liability, insurance, etc.), commercial horticulture, specialty crops, pesticides in fruit crops, vegetables, and mushrooms, integrated pest management (IPM), soil management, orchard establishment, worker protection standards, communication and cultural differences among Latinx and other communities, dairy livestock, labor and conflict management, and awareness of funding available through government programs for implementing conservation practices. Some indicated that they focused on all topics because they were trying to make all topics available to the Latinx community.
The activities used to disseminate these topics were developing educational outreach, writing and/or translating publications (from English to Spanish, primarily), developing and providing educational materials, offering workshops, offering classes for pesticide credits, visiting farms, teaching technical aspects on conservation and about the institutions they represent, offering training videos and webinars, and coordinating efforts to attend to the needs of Latinx farmers, or serving as an interpreter or translator when needed. At least three participants mentioned that through their work with new and beginning farmers, they were able to focus on serving Latinx growers and providing entrepreneurship workshops on marketing and business practices.
Educators were asked what they were trying to accomplish with programs that serve the Latinx farming population to understand the reasons or motivations for their efforts. Responses were coded and categorized into themes. Some responses offered multiple motivations, so themes do not add up exactly to the number of participants (N = 12).
‘Inclusiveness’ (n = 6) was the most cited theme; people shared a desire to offer programming that is accessible to this diverse population.
‘Professional advancement’ (n = 4) refers to educators’ interest in supporting the professional growth of Latinxs, moving from farm employees to supervisors, starting their own businesses, or just succeeding overall.
‘Fulfill the mission of Extension’ (n = 2). The educators are working to ensure that agricultural programming is available to all Pennsylvanian farmers and farm employees and want to ensure the Latinx community is aware of this service.
‘Support agricultural industries’ (n = 2) refers to educators’ views on farm owners having a well-trained labor force.
‘Fulfill a need’ (n = 2) to serve a growing population.
‘Educators’ personal motivations’ (n = 2) include enjoying learning Spanish or the satisfaction of being able to help.
‘Community building’ (n = 1) explained an interest in creating relationships and offering opportunities to amplify individuals’ voices about their needs.
The need to ‘prepare the next generation of farmers’ (n = 1) of which Latinxs are a part.
3.2.3. Personal Challenges in Meeting Latinx Farmers’ Needs
To identify what, if anything, is a barrier to meeting the needs of Latinx farmers in Pennsylvania, participants shared their personal experiences as educators. Agricultural educators’ obstacles were clustered into seven themes, presented in Figure 3
, indicating the number of times each theme or category was mentioned.
‘Lack of personnel/time’ (n = 6) was the most common obstacle cited by educators, especially by those with good Spanish language skills. Currently, a lot of programming targeting Latinx audiences focuses on reaching people who are not fluent in English or prefer to learn in Spanish. Agricultural educators indicated they need more people to help with Spanish programming because it significantly adds to their duties. Most had responsibilities that did not include outreach in Spanish and creating programming in Spanish added to their already full workloads.
Educators (n = 4) indicated that one of the main challenges was ‘reaching Latinx farmers’ due to difficulties locating them and identifying them as farmers.
The theme of ‘language’ was mentioned on four occasions. However, half of these educators (n = 2) discussed language as a significant barrier. The other half (n = 2) indicated that it is not always an issue because many Latinx people speak English. They said that language as a barrier can be overcome with empathy and cultural understanding, which are more important than accurate interpretations.
The ‘institutional related’ theme resonated with three educators and had two connotations. In two cases, educators mentioned that there was an institutional barrier to meeting Latinx farmers’ needs because their employment structure did not encourage or reward working with Latinx farmers the way it does with other audiences. They focused on programming for Latinxs who are not fluent in English or prefer to learn in Spanish. They said that by working in Spanish programming, they could be at risk of neglecting their central nucleus of responsibility, which could affect their professional advancement, since the promotion process is rigorous. Another educator echoed this by saying the “importance of working with them (Latinxs) is not always recognized or is poorly understood by some of the decision-makers”. However, another educator shared that their supervisors had never pushed back on their work with Latinxs. This person said,
I’ll say that the two places that I never found obstacles were, one, within my supervisor, people within Extension telling me what to do, no one ever said, ‘Don’t work with these people’. I was always encouraged to follow that line. And I also never had any push back from farmers themselves … [I] never had anything but support from farmers on this work, which was kind of nice.
‘Lack of connection with Latinx community’ (n = 2) was a recurring theme in portions of several interviews, but only two educators presented it as an obstacle for this specific question. It refers to an inability to connect with Latinxs because they do not know that Extension exists or have trouble accessing Extension programs. One participant indicated that the biggest problem is distributing and promoting materials; the other mentioned that they have a problem marketing Extension services to the Latinx community.
One non-Latinx bilingual educator mentioned that their ‘non-Latinx appearance’ could potentially make Latinx farmers uncomfortable because when they first approach, Latinx farmers often assume that this educator only speaks English.
Concerning meeting the needs of Latinx farmers, one educator said that one obstacle is that there is not a good understanding of Latinx farmer’s needs (i.e., lack of knowledge of stakeholders’ needs).
3.2.4. Institutional Challenges in Meeting Latinx Farmers’ Needs
Agricultural educators shared their opinions regarding institutional challenges to serving Latinx farmers. Several comments revolved around funding to reach people who are not fluent in English or prefer to learn in Spanish, because programming for Spanish-speaking audiences requires a different approach than traditionally used, which means a demand for additional resources and justification of greater effort. Responses were classified into seven themes, and at least three are related to funding.
‘Bilingual Personnel’ (n = 7). Participants mentioned that there are only a few bilingual educators, so even when their institutions try to advance their efforts for Spanish-speaking communities, the number of bilingual educators is insufficient.
‘Investment/cost’ (n = 4). Educators recognized that these efforts require investment in resources for reaching this population, including creating awareness of educational opportunities, creating welcoming spaces, improving cultural competency, conducting a needs assessment, translating materials for those who prefer Spanish, and making these efforts sustainable (i.e., not depending solely on short-term external funding).
‘Justify efforts’ (n = 2) because most resources are used to target other audiences, resource allocation for this minority population may be complicated.
‘Partnership establishment’ (n = 2) is a common strategy educators use to overcome the barriers of connecting with different populations and limited resources. However, partnerships are complicated because there is a risk of excluding social groups, and competition among agencies can interfere with successful collaboration.
‘Knowledge of stakeholders’ (n = 2) was mentioned as an institutional obstacle, because educators do not know who the Latinx farmers are and where to find them.
‘Administration support’ (n = 1) reflects a comment about a lack of support at the administrative level in providing services in Spanish and in addressing other barriers.
‘Extension logistics/format’ (n = 1) refers to the incompatibility between the current Extension approaches and the preferred approaches of the Latinx population. For example, a push for online Extension programs and exclusively using online registrations exists, when many in this community prefer face-to-face interactions.
3.2.5. Educators’ Strategies for Working with Latinx Farmers
Some agricultural educators had over a decade of experience working with Latinxs in Pennsylvania, and they shared their strategies for programming and how they overcame challenges.
Educators generally establish partnerships for funding, identifying and engaging with individuals, and accessing resources. Additionally, they developed specific programs or events for Latinx audiences. One of the oldest and most important events is the Spanish-speaking session at the annual Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention (a regional farmer’s meeting) in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which has occurred for 11 years (since 2009). Translating publications and programs from English to Spanish is another common strategy, as well as adapting the structure of the events so that they are more attractive to Latinxs. For example, educators hold family-friendly events on weekends, encouraging community-building by having dinners together and making programs more interactive. Finally, they also mentioned how communication/engagement in the community (e.g., going into restaurants or stores and talking to people) has helped increase the knowledge and level of interaction with Latinx farmers in Pennsylvania.
3.3. Comparison of Latinx Farmers and Agricultural Educators
Latinx farmers’ and agricultural educators’ responses were compared in three sections: access to information, challenges due to Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity, and recommendations for agricultural educators.
3.3.1. Access to Information
Latinx farmers’ preferences when accessing information are as follows: (a) family is generally not a source of information for them (almost never, n = 7; rarely, n = 4); (b) Extension and USDA agencies are a more frequent source (continuously, n = 5; almost always, n = 4); (c) other farmers are a more frequent source than not (sometimes, n = 8; continuously, n = 5); (d) feed and seed dealers are a mostly continuous source (n = 8); (e) lenders are absolutely not a source of information (n = 13); and (f) the internet is a very frequent source of information (almost always, n = 11).
Agricultural educators think that Latinx farmers obtain their information mostly through informal education channels, such as word of mouth (n = 5), from employers (n = 4), and through experience (n = 2). Educators also mentioned that organizations (n = 1), both educational and trade, may provide information to more experienced farmers, as well as private companies (n = 1) and the internet (n = 2). Finally, educators indicated that based on personal experience, Latinxs prefer to learn by watching, so posting videos online is a helpful resource.
3.3.2. Challenges Due to Latinx Ethnicity
The question “Are there particular issues that farmers, aspiring farmers, and operators face because they are Hispanics/Latinxs?” was asked to both groups. Latinx farmers and agricultural educators gave different responses.
While all educators (N = 12, 100%) agreed that Latinxs face issues in farming due to their ethnicity, Latinx farmers’ responses (n = 16) were divided. Five responded yes (31.25%), six said no (37.5%), and five (31.25%) presented challenges and opportunities for Latinx farmers in the same response.
When prompted to explain their answer, educators mentioned issues related to being newer citizens, which impact their access to land resources and services. Language or communication gaps were another perceived challenge because they limited the ability of Latinx farmers to navigate this new system. Educators also think that immigration status and discrimination are challenges Latinxs face when farming in Pennsylvania. Finally, one educator thought that Latinx farmers might implement cultural agricultural practices (especially with livestock management), which may not be viewed well by US-born farmers or may even have some issues meeting food safety regulations. However, other educators mentioned that Latinx farmers would not face challenges related to production practices. They also indicated that Latinx producers have a fantastic attitude to work.
Latinx farmers that think that challenges are related to their Hispanic ethnicity (n = 5) agreed that access to land resources, stereotypes, and racism were issues that affected this group, alongside financial issues. Because of racism, some may not want to be very visible in their communities. They also discussed the need to know about government programs in order to access them. Latinx participants that do not see challenges associated with ethnicity (n = 6) indicated that agricultural management is the same regardless of ethnicity, and that any business has issues, especially in its initial stages. They also shared that people treat them well when they sell at their markets, and that they feel supported by non-Latinx farmers. Some even see a window of opportunity for larger profits because it is easier to find labor due to sharing the Latinx culture with the available agricultural labor pool. Those that see both challenges and opportunities think that there may be issues that Latinxs face. These issues include initial fear or insecurity about using English for those who are not fluent in English, and about starting a business, a lack of unity among Latinxs, and prejudgments about them being less educated. Still, the characteristics and skills of Latinxs, such as being hardworking, having initiative, and identifying opportunities, can help to overcome these issues.
3.3.3. Recommendations for Agricultural Educators
Both groups shared ideas that agricultural educators could adopt to improve support for Latinx farmers, aspiring farmers, and operators in Pennsylvania.
Six Latinx farmers and four educators emphasized language. They believe that more Spanish-focused programs and bilingual personnel are essential to improve engagement, and at the same time, they recommend offering English courses for Latinxs in agriculture. Four Latinx farmers suggested having organizational support from Penn State Extension to connect Latinx farmers with each other. Three Latinx farmers requested training on starting operations and acquiring loans and insurance. Four educators discussed the need to permanently engage with the Latinx community. They said this would create a connection and build trust. Additionally, the audience would develop a habit of coming to Extension for information and would know about the services offered. Two Latinx farmers requested help finding land to rent, and two did not know about Extension services. An agricultural educator recommended improving the marketing of events through social media, because “[Latinxs] are good [at] using their cellphones.” However, another person acknowledged that Penn State Extension has a social media presence through Facebook and Twitter, but still struggles to reach this population because some do not have access to the internet. Educators also discussed the need for systematic engagement, strategic goals, and a framework or structure to continue outreach efforts in Spanish. They explained that besides educators developing and conducting programs and people translating publications, human resources are needed to provide administrative and organizational support. One educator believed that Latinxs must be more engaged in the needs assessments and programming planning processes, including having community leaders serve in advisory groups. Recruiting students from the Latinx community into agricultural careers (either academic- or industry-related) was also mentioned by an educator. Despite these recommendations, one educator thought the current progress was enough, since Penn State Extension offered good training opportunities to Hispanic producers, and the organization is constantly improving. An educator also mentioned better funding for these programs. Ultimately, all the proposed ideas required economic resources.