Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Immigrant farmers stand to lose funds for training, loans under Trump's proposed budget

Yakima County, Washington (Wikipedia map)
President Trump's proposed budget cuts would hurt agriculture communities that rely on immigrants, like Yakima County, Washington, where Hispanics or Latinos make up 48.3 percent of the population, compared to 44.3 percent of whites, Bryce Oates reports for the Daily Yonder. In 1990, only 23.9 percent of Yakima County's population was Latino or Hispanic.

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census, in 2012, Yakima County "produced $1.65 billion of agricultural products," Oates writes. Yakima County leads the nation in in apple acreage, revenue from hops production and sweet cherry production, and is seventh in revenue from milk production and 15th in wine grape acreage.

Yakima County's Center for Latino Farmers, which only serves U.S. citizens or legal immigrants, provides resources and training for local farmers, Oates reports. It's part of Rural Community Development Resources and "is highly dependent upon federal grants and partnerships to serve the non-farming population." The center is a certified Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institution and its staff and technical assistance resources are supported by the Economic Development Administration. A portion of the loan funding they provide to entrepreneurs comes from the Small Business Administration. Oates notes that all of these federal programs have been slated to be cut or eliminated by Trump.

Maria Giedra, outreach specialist for the center, told Oates, "The people we assist are looking for capital, loans for land and also for operating capital. We help them find loans from the Farm Services Agency, help them understand what program is best for them." The center also "serves farmers with education, technical assistance, and support for enrolling in USDA programs. They hold meetings and training on crop production, record-keeping, post-harvest handling of farm outputs, and regulations that affect their farms."

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