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K-State Today

December 7, 2012

Wood and Wiley present research with students at Professional Agricultural Workers Conference

Submitted by Spencer Wood

Spencer D. Wood, interim head of American ethnic studies and assistant professor of sociology, and Zelia Z. Wiley, assistant dean for diversity and director of the diversity programs office in the College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension, presented a poster of their current research with graduate students Daja Menafee, agricultural economics, and Nicole John, sociology, at the 70th annual Professional Agricultural Workers Conference in Tuskegee, Ala.

The poster, "When History and Place Matter: Understanding the Patterns of Black Farm Numbers in the Census of Agriculture, 1982-2007," documents the first national increase in the number of African-American farmers since the 1920s amidst a series of changing enumeration strategies on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The research shows how the improved enumeration strategies resulted in large increases in the number of identified African-American farms. However, only between 2002 and 2007 were the approaches consistent enough to conclude that there was a real increase in these farms.

Using a series of maps designed in collaboration with Patrick Rissler, sociology graduate student, the authors show that the growth is not easily attributable to an increase in urban agriculture. Although, there are signs that certain Mid-American cities, such as Kansas City and Oklahoma City, have seen a dramatic increase in African-American urban agriculture. Further research is called for to answer questions about variations in the growth and decline in African-American farms.