Research Examines Inequities in the U.S. Food System

Rocky Casillas news

A recent article on the website explores what Main Street Project well knows: The American farming landscape is highly unequitable.

“[W]hite Americans are most likely to own land and benefit from the wealth it generates,” writes Megan Horst, who recently published research examining data non-farming landownersfarmers who own and lease land farmworkers. “From 2012 to 2014, white people comprised over 97 percent of non-farming landowners, 96 percent of owner-operators, and 86 percent of tenant operators. They also generated 98 percent of all farm-related income from land ownership and 97 percent of the income that comes from operating farms.”

Meanwhile, Latinx farmers comprised about 2 percent of non-farming landowners and about 6 percent of owner-operators and tenant operators, well below their 17 percent representation in the U.S. population. They also comprised over 80 percent of farm laborers.

Horst writes that farm laborers have “a notoriously under-compensated, difficult, and vulnerable position in U.S. farming. For example, according to the National Agricultural Workers Survey 2015-2016: ;

  • Farmworkers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999. 
  • Only 47 percent of farmworkers reported they had health insurance.
  • Just more than half of all farmworkers in 2015-2016 had work authorization (51%).

For the complete article, “How Racism Has Shaped the American Farming Landscape,” visit:

To view the National Agricultural Workers Survey:

For more on U.S. land ownership and tenure:

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