One of the greatest drivers of California’s surging economy is agriculture, which provides the state with ample produce and the nation with specialty foods that are grown few other places. Although efforts to end employment discrimination are often centered in the cities, farming has its share of issues with discriminatory practices.
Female and minority farmers have reported many problems trying to sustain or grow their plots and operations. Women are less likely to be able to buy or lease property for farming for a fair price, if at all. White male colleagues often snap up the land far more easily.
Technical assistance is also less likely for women and minorities who own and manage farms. Male equipment dealers have openly mocked women, and minorities are often charged more or asked for unnecessary documentation.
California is considering the Farmer Equity Act of 2017, which would amend the state’s agriculture code to develop and encourage a more diverse set of empowered farmers. It would create a constituency of “socially disadvantaged” farmers that would receive extra state support.
Lawmakers notes that California has less than three percent of the nation’s farmland but nearly 15 percent of U.S. Latino farmers, more than 35 percent of the nation’s Asian farmers and more than 20 percent of Native American farmers – as well as nearly five percent of all U.S. women farmers.
This measure has little additional enforcement, so farmers must continue to press their cases against discrimination. Legal representation can help determine if certain behaviors or policies constitute discrimination and how to fight it through mediation and court action.
Source: Civil Eats, “A California Bill Takes Steps to End Discrimination Against Farmers,” Christopher Collins, accessed Sep. 15, 2017