Immigrant Integration & Sustainable Rural Development: Linking Receiving & Newcomer Communities

A Cambio Center research project funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Integration Poster Among the transformational events currently shaping the future of U.S. agriculture is the process of demographic and cultural change in rural communities in the Midwest that until only two decades ago were settled almost exclusively by people of European descent. The prosperity of Midwestern rural communities depends in part on the successful and lasting integration of newcomers into society’s fabric as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs.

Rural communities face a number of struggles to integrate immigrants. Immigrants often have limited access to networks and information that impacts their earnings and wellbeing. Lack of integration between receiving and immigrant communities results in short-term (e.g., inefficient resource allocation and underutilization of the social networks of immigrants) and long-term social costs to the community (e.g., lack of sustainability and rural community viability).

Are Latinos more engaged in the broader community networks, participating as consumers, producers, and entrepreneurs, and creating relationships between the different groups that did not exist before?

This 4-year project, which began in February 2011, examines the economic and social integration of three rural communities in Missouri from the perspectives of immigrant newcomers and long-term residents. This project focuses on promoting the sustainability of agricultural and rural communities by using an interdisciplinary, strengths based model, and developing tools and participatory processes to facilitate the integration between long time members of the rural community and newcomers.

This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Competitive Grant No. 2011- 67023- 30105 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.