DIVERSITY IN AGRICULTURE
Agriculture lags behind many other industries on diversity, but the sector is making strides to improve. In particular, the number of female farmers or women in decision-making roles on farms has significantly increased. Of the 3.4 million farmers in the U.S., about 1.2 million are women – a 27% increase over the previous five years.
Still, the percentage of minority farmers in agriculture is much smaller than in the general population, signaling that there is much more for the industry to do to become more diverse. Currently, about 3% of U.S. farmers are Hispanic, 1.7% are Native American, 1.3% are black, and 0.6% are Asian. In addition, agriculture needs more young people to enter the field – currently, the average age of an American farmer is almost 58 years old.
Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in agriculture will help the industry become stronger, creative, more innovative, and ultimately more successful. To improve, agriculture needs more young people from all backgrounds to enter the field. For students, joining a local 4-H program, FFA group, or other agricultural organization is a good way to gain exposure and learn about the many career opportunities agriculture has to offer.