Race, immigration and the agrarian question: farmworkers becoming farmers in the United States*

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


As White farmers in the United States retire en masse, the racial and ethnic demographics of US farming are shifting to now include a significant number of Latino farm owner-operators. Yet this population of new farmers, contributing specific technical expertise and knowledge, is not represented in current discussions concerning agrarian transitions. This paper draws on interview-based research conducted in the states of California, Maryland, New York, Minnesota and Washington, with first-generation Latino immigrant farmworkers who have transitioned to farm ownership. The majority are practicing small-scale and diverse crop production, with limited synthetic inputs and mostly family labor, as this form of farming allows them to reclaim control over their own labor and livelihoods, while also earning a cash income. The farmers included in this study, and their rationale for farming despite race- and citizenship-based challenges, cannot be understood simply through a lens of class transition. This contribution provides evidence that Latino immigrants’ ascendancy to farm ownership is instead a result of their struggle to redefine their relationship to land and labor in a country where their race and citizenship status have relegated them to the working poor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 23 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • agrarian questions
  • farm labor
  • immigrant farmers
  • race and food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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