by Abelardo de la Pena Jr.
- Latinos claim the highest rate of new farmers in the nation, and their ranks are growing in Florida in particular. They’re contributing to local economies and introducing new fruits and vegetables to market.
- Florida has more than 3,100 farms and agriculture-related business where Latinos are the principal operators, almost 7% of the state’s 47,500 total (OrlandoSentinel.com 7 February 2011). Many are growing fruits and vegetables and selling to food cooperatives and farmers’ markets.
- Latino farmers, many who are immigrants from Central America and Mexico and who have strong farming roots, provide red turnips and different varieties of chili peppers and greens.
- One impediment to growth: unawareness of federal grants and other government resources available to help them start, expand or keep their businesses afloat.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- As the number of Latinos in rural areas increases, the greater their representation as owners of farms and other agricultural companies. Suppliers and services to this sector can reach this consumer by communicating to them in English and Spanish and sharing information that will help their businesses grow.
- Food-related companies would be wise to get to know Latino farmers and the crops they’re growing; they’re not just playing an important role in strengthening and diversifying the country’s farm sector but also influencing what people are eating.