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Models and Methods

There are two primary sources of data for this project. The first is the community of practice—the community collaborators and advisors we engage as part of the project. They will share what they believe to be their needs in terms of being able to provide effective support to the Latino entrepreneur-farmers. The second and principal source of data will be the Latino entrepreneur-farmers.

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A variant on a “wealth-based” approach to rural economic development will be applied to research and outreach efforts to match family or household capitals (assets) possessed by Latino farmers and farm worker families with opportunities to utilize those capitals. We will utilize a capitals framework at both the household and community levels to assess potentials for enhanced rural development. Similarly, we will document their levels of human, cultural, political, natural, financial, and build capital, and assess how those assets can be utilized and combined in new ways to improve their life quality and livelihood options. We expect that if household livelihood strategies can be enhanced and options expanded, that this would in turn strengthen capitals at the community level.


Elements to explore in this framework include:
Social Capital—the existing networks of farmer-entrepreneurs farm workers and those they need to develop.
Human Capital—the ability of Latino farmers-entrepreneurs to capitalize on their previous experiences and educational capacity and access.
Financial Capital—the extent to which they are able to raise capital for investing in capacity.
Cultural Capital—the extent to which they are able to operate within the dominant culture.
Natural Capital—the extent to which farmers have access to land and natural resource management practices.
Political Capital—the degree to which Latino farmers and farmworkers have voice in the geographic communities of which they are part.
Community climate & context —this allows or stifles networks of support.
Acculturation captures human agency—how the capitals and capabilities shape livelihood strategies in specific community contexts and networks of support in the practice.

This project will be conducted in three distinct phases.

Phase One – Qualitative Research

Phase One will utilize qualitative methods to engage with the Latino farmer-entrepreneurs and community collaborators. An interview protocol will be developed to explore the diversity of livelihoods and the level of farming intensity that the Latino farmer-entrepreneurs are engaged in. Once the cases have been coded, a cross case analysis will be conducted as a way of exploring the extent to which the cases relate to a set of key themes or timeframes that will help us set up some parameters for the two continuums (capacity for farming and diversity of livelihoods). There are four broad themes that will be explored in the cross case analysis: 1. Livelihood Strategies; 2. Field of Farming; 3. Capabilities; 4. The larger context of community institutions (where the field of farming and livelihood strategies operate).
  1. Conduct a literature review of experiences in which farm workers also became farmers or transitioned to farming.
  2. The researchers in Iowa, Missouri and Michigan will collaborate to devise protocols for the focus groups, case study interviews and survey instruments.
  3. Engage in participatory issue mapping through focus groups conducted with key community stakeholders and Latino agriculture entrepreneurs to identify capacities and where those capacities could be enhanced. Key stakeholders are defined as those institutions in the community linking or capable of linking with Latinos interested in farming.
  4. Conduct case study interviews with Latino agriculture entrepreneurs and in Iowa with Anglo employers, service providers, and Latino farmworkers and their families.
  5. Transcribe focus groups and case study interviews.
  6. Code, analyze, and write up results from qualitative in-depth interviews.


Phase Two – Survey Research

Phase Two will include the development and implementation of a survey protocol based on the findings from the issue mapping with the community collaborators in Phase One and the case study interviews with the Latino farmer-entrepreneurs and farmworkers. The survey will examine the extent to which the issues raised by the community collaborators are relevant or acknowledged by the Latino entrepreneurs/farmers that they are trying to serve and identify the key measures pertaining to social capital, human capital, financial capital, cultural capital, natural capital, community climate and context, acculturation and human agency.
  1. Based on literature review and issue mapping data from the focus groups and interviews, develop a survey instrument for Latino agriculture entrepreneurs.
  2. Train students to be enumerators for the survey.
  3. Administer the survey instrument to Latino farmer-entrepreneurs.
  4. Analyze survey results.



Phase Three – Readiness Scale Implementation and Evaluation

Phase Three will focus on the implementation and evaluation of the Agriculture Entrepreneurship Readiness Scale. Once the scale is developed, a training curriculum will be developed and piloted with service providers in each state. They will be encouraged to use the scale for three to six months as a means of assessing how services can be tailored to more effectively address their needs.
  1. Based on results, draft an Agriculture Entrepreneurship Readiness toolkit that will help employers, service providers, and community leaders assist Latino workers to engage in their own agricultural production.
  2. In collaboration with Extension, design training focused on farming for farmers, farm workers and employers, service providers and community leaders.
  3. Conduct a training program in conjunction with local counterparts (Extension, CASA, etc.)
  4. Evaluate project and training programs.


Share Findings and Tools
The project team will share the training materials and the research findings through several methods. The project will disseminate training materials through website; share findings and materials from the project through our networks, webinars and conferences; and write and publish research and extension articles.



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This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2016-68006-25210 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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