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California Small Farm 2501 Project


Objective 1: Increase and intensify the dissemination and outreach of business management information in order to enhance the skills and abilities of California's socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to make important management decisions including marketing strategies. <P>Objective 2: Provide effective educational and technical assistance on farm production practices to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to enable them to adopt best management practices in their farm operations. <P>Objective 3: Strengthen linkages between California socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and USDA agencies and programs to facilitate increased access and program participation. <P>Objective 4: Build bridges and reduce barriers between California socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and key institutions that provide services to agriculture.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: California has 74,126 farms. As of 1997, 43.8 percent of the state's farms had gross sales revenues of less than $10,000. Another 28 percent had sales between $10,000 and $100,000. These limited resource farms face substantial constraints in gaining access to markets, capital, technology and information. With 6,560 minority farmers and 10,340 farms operated by women, California has the largest concentration of socially disadvantaged farm operators in the U.S., accounting for 39 percent of the Asians, 16 percent of the Hispanics, 5 percent of the Native Americans, and 2 percent of the African Americans (as of the 1997 California Agricultural Census). The UC Small Farm Program has an extensive and continuous track record in serving the information and technical needs of California's limited resource farmers. While the Program operates on a statewide basis, its efforts are focused more intensively on those counties and sub-regions in which the largest concentrations of small scale and minority operations are located. UC Cooperative Extension advisors who work with minority farmers report that farmers need 1) more training and materials in appropriate languages; 2) more technical transfer on a variety of topics relating to crop management of specialty crops; 3) greater familiarity with the systems, procedures and regulations of USDA programs; 4) to build relations and trust with government agencies and other service providers such as banks and insurers; and 5) business management skills, specifically in the area of economic decision-making. The plan of action includes workshops, tours, field days and demonstrations located in sub-regions of the state with relatively high densities of socially disadvantaged farmers. All activities will engage appropriate local, state and federal agencies to increase socially disadvantaged farmers' use of and participation in agricultural programs and resources. Outreach activities of broader interest, such as business management skills training and working with lending institutions and USDA FSA representatives, will be repeated in each region. Farmers and ranchers will increase their use of outreach and assistance agencies, programs and organizations such as UC Cooperative Extension, the USDA - NRCS, FSA, Emergency Loan Program, farm operating and ownership loan programs, and EQIP. Farmers and ranchers will be more adept at record-keeping, using cost and return studies, economic decisionmaking, risk management, business planning, leasing and buying, bidding and contract negotiations, and market access and management. Farmers and ranchers will have increased knowledge of and skill with production and harvest management, including crop diversification, integrated pest management, water and energy management, post handling and quality control requirements, and pesticide and food safety. USDA agencies and programs and other institutions will be better equipped to interact with and improve service to underserved cultural groups. <P>APPROACH: Small Farm Program advisors and staff will conduct individual and collaborative research and outreach programs aimed at target groups of small-scale farmers of diverse ethnicities who are underserved by other research and outreach programs in California. These include African-American, Latino, ethnic Chinese, South East Asian farmers, as well as women farmers, throughout the state. Numbers of participants will vary depending on topic and type of outreach activity. Individual consultations will enable personalized information delivery. Workshops and field days will reach between 50 and 400 participants, while newsletters, magazine articles, and radio programs will reach 1,000 or more recipients. These efforts will enable the target clientele of this project to better respond to the dynamic agricultural system in California.

Jolly, Desmond
University of California - Office of the President
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