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Farming’s New Faces

March 26, 2009 | By Patty Cantrell
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Gary Howe
Patty Cantrell
Gary Howe
Immigrant and women farmers are among those bringing new energy to Michigan agriculture, the state’s second-largest industry.

You can see it in the sharp contrast between the big losses of farmland in Michigan— 300,000 acres between 1997 and 2002—and the big gains in the number of new, nontraditional farmers. During that period, for example, the number of Hispanic farmland owners grew by 163 percent, while the number of women owners grew by 20 percent.

Middle: Nora Lindsey is completing the Organic Farming Certificate Program at Michigan State University and plans to make farming her full-time profession. Bottom: Until he was 15, Herberto Olviedo’s family (above left) traveled as migrant laborers between Texas and Michigan. Now, at 25, Mr. Olviedo has saved enough money to buy a small farm and start building a beef cattle herd. He’s taking farm business classes and using the region’s Taste the Local Difference network to connect with other local farms. His perseverance keeps him moving forward. “That’s the key really, to work hard to get what you really want,” he said.

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