I love an immigrant story, probably because we can all connect to them in some way. We are all from somewhere else, no matter when that journey happened.
“America was and is the immigrant's dream,” said the author Don Delillo, and I like his use of the past and present tense.
So it was interesting to watch Harvest reporter/producer Clay Masters documentary "Hispanic Farmers on Broken Ground," which first aired last Friday on NET, our partner in Nebraska. Not only does Clay cover the difficulties Latinos have in entering farming, he talks to people who had a hard time even finding Hispanic farmers in Nebraska.
Now, there’s a difference in working on a farm – or being employed in the side industries of agriculture, like the meatpacking plants. What Clay and others were looking for were Hispanic landowners who were committed to farming.
It was a tough job – trust me, several of my queries on the subject went nowhere. But when analysts from the Center for Rural Affairs finally made some connections, and looked at USDA data, they found that there are 166 farms owned by Latinos in the state.
But did those farmers want to be found?
“A lot of the folks out there really want to fit in,” John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, says in the film. “They don’t want to be denoted in any sort of way as a minority farmer. They want to just be a farmer.”
Rhonda McClure can relate to the power of simply wanting to be a farmer.
In this powerful blog post, set on her Nebraska sheep farm during a busy spring, Rhonda wrote about watching Clay’s documentary. As a fellow pioneer – her term – Rhonda wrote about the struggles she and her husband overcame to finally run their little operation. And she rather courageously admitted that she resented that minorities and women can get government help these days while it was never available to her.
After much thinking about the film, Rhonda wrote that she’s glad there’s some help out there for these new pioneers and that their dreams should not die.
“I do not resent the individuals. Empathize more like it,” she wrote. “I saw my own reflection in those dark eyes.”
Watch Clay’s documentary (and see the rest of our series on the Farmer of the Future) by clicking here or if you live in the Kansas City area, it will be broadcast Friday at 9 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on KCPT.