The fourth annual “Growing Together” Latino Farmer Conference offered a chance for the agricultural community to hear important industry information presented in Spanish. The event was hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A significant portion of the conference was aimed at outreach to the agricultural community to make farmers aware of all of the resources that are available to enable them for success.
The conference highlighted the fact that according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service there are 90,000 Latino farmers across the U.S. with about 16 percent of them living in California. “It’s the reason we’re having this conference here today in Spanish,” NRCS Special Assistant to the State Conservationist Gayle Barry said. “If people maybe want to understand what it is we do at USDA, one-on-one with them in their language, maybe that would help make a little bit more sense and maybe they would ask questions they wouldn’t feel comfortable with otherwise.”
Approximately 300 people were in attendance for the Latino Farmer Conference, which was held at the Radisson Hotel in Santa María this year. Dozens of vendor booths were housed in the lobby where attendees could ask questions on the latest products and get more information from several of the government organizations on-hand such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture and USDA.
Manager of the NCAT California Office Rex Dufour noted the importance of engaging the farming community about the various resources they offer to the industry. “We run something called the ATTRA Project, it’s a national sustainable ag information service with a website with lots of different kinds of information. We have 400 different kinds of publications, we have databases, podcasts, videos, webinars,” Dufour noted. “We also run two toll-free lines, one in English and one in Spanish. So any farmer from any place in the U.S. can give us a call and ask any question related to organic or sustainable production of crops or livestock.”
The Latino Farmer Conference featured breakout sessions which included information on soil management, irrigation efficiency, new technologies, as well as the business side of the industry in relation to financing and employee management. Attendees also heard from a panel of buyers offering insight on marketing techniques and methods of accessing markets.