Lana Cusick, 202-720-3325
Jo Lynne Seufer, 509-228-6320
MANAGING FARM RISK THROUGH COLLABORATION
YAKIMA, WA, Aug 24, 2011 - Latino farmers and ranchers praise the Yakima-based Center for Latino Farmers (Center) for the valuable services it provides. The Center was established in 2001 to work with primarily Spanish-speaking farm workers in central Washington State by connecting them to USDA services, providing training workshops, preparing loan packages and providing one-on-one technical assistance services.
Center for Latino Farmer Staff
Left to right: Audel Ramirez, Luz Bazan-Gutierrez, Maria Giedra, Maria de Jesus Rodriguez, Raquel Vijarro
The Center has worked with USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) Spokane Regional Office for more than ten years, receiving funding directly from RMA's Community Outreach and Assistance Program for four of those years. And what has made this partnership a success? Good management, networking, a shared vision, know-how and combined outreach efforts.
Luz Bazan Gutierrez, the Center's Director, agrees. "Partnerships with RMA are a perfect fit to reach the growing number of Latino farmers in Washington State. We serve as a local go-to resource on everything from USDA programs to state pesticide and direct marketing information, establishing and sustaining trust with our community," Gutierrez said.
The Center provides services to Washington State Latino farmers and has accomplished much. They have helped to substantially increase:
1. The number of Farm Service Agency farm loan approvals for Latino farmers;
2. The number of Latino farmers covered by crop insurance policies (including Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite participation);
3. Awareness of and use of conservation practices;
4. The number of AG Census reports returned by Latino farmers in Washington State.
David Knopf, Director of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service in Washington State reported, "The 2007 Census of Agriculture showed the number of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin farmers and ranchers is 2,604, ranking Washington State as sixth in the nation. The number of Latino operators increased 43 percent from 2002, and now accounts for 4 percent of all operators."
Eliel Cruz, Outreach Risk Specialist with the Center, works directly with every farmer or rancher who reaches out to the Center. "We envision our services as an 'umbrella of risk management' knowing the more informed a producer is, the better prepared they are to make effective decisions on the farm. The Center has personal connections, an on-going relationship because we are part of the farming, church and local community," Cruz said.
One of many farmers benefiting from Cruz's time and commitment is Mr. Villa-Solis of Royal City, WA, who learned through a personal risk analysis that Multi-Peril Crop Insurance, particularly the Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite insurance policy, best fits his needs because of past years of accurate reporting of farm income (through IRS Schedule F). "Crossing my fingers, hoping for the best, praying that no natural disaster would occur is how we have managed risks. Now, having insurance I can sleep well at night." Villa-Solis said.
RMA's Dave Paul, Director of the Spokane Regional Office, said, "The Center is a valuable partner, helping us create awareness of RMA insurance programs for a growing number of Latino farmers. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Center, working together to ensure Latino producers have access to and are aware of the tools available to manage risk. These partnerships will help safeguard agriculture's success now and in the future."
The Federal crop insurance program and Risk Management Education and Outreach programs together provide a safety net to ensure that farmers and ranchers will weather the perils of nature and the marketplace and continue in business, thus ensuring the food supply and the survival of small, limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers. RMA administers these partnership projects as well as the Federal crop insurance program with funding and authority from the Federal Crop Insurance Act.