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More U.S. women, minorities are farmers

Feb. 18, 2009 at 4:01 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Statistics show more women and minorities in the United States are becoming farmers.

The federal government's newly released Census of Agriculture shows while the number of farms in the United States is growing. Additionally, the number of female farmers has gone up 30 percent since 2002.

Analysts say the growth in niche and organic crops has contributed the increase in the number of small farms run by women.

"You are also seeing women taking over as the principal operator because their spouse has passed on," Carol House of the National Agricultural Statistics Service told the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. "You also see some women coming in and doing things like raising goats and selling organic specialty cheeses."

The Mercury News also said Wednesday more Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians are running their own farms, particularly in California where Vietnamese and Laotians are joining the long-established ranks of Japanese-American growers.

The stats also show the average age of the American farmer is 57 years and more farmers are working side jobs to supplement their income.

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