Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Social Sciences

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Kenneth L. Robinson

Committee Member

Dr. Leslie Hall Hossfeld

Committee Member

Dr. Natallia Sianko



Throughout American history, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (SDFRs) have faced systemic discrimination, often leading to their intentional exclusion from federal programs. This has contributed to a decline in the number of farms operated by SDFRs. Even though certain policies led to a gradual increase in their numbers, the average acreage of SDFR-owned farms has diminished over time. Recognizing the impact of racial disadvantages on the diminished participation of SDFRs, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has instituted programs specifically tailored for minority farmers, offering financial aid and outreach initiatives. However, persistent and emerging barriers continue to impede the participation of these farmers and ranchers in federal programs. These barriers include a lack of information, transparency, and outreach efforts. Although the USDA has introduced federal programs to address financial difficulties and provide financial assistance through grants and loans, these programs predominantly favor large, White producers, leaving small and socially disadvantaged farmers in distress. Given the ongoing obstacles to participation in federal programs and accessing capital, this exploratory study seeks to comprehend how small African American farmers and ranchers adapt to financial challenges and employ coping strategies. The study draws on data collected from 22 farmers and ranchers classified as SDFRs. Interviews reveal that some farmers now refrain from taking loans from federal or private organizations, relying on tools such as networking and the internet for information and as platforms to promote their farm businesses.

Available for download on Tuesday, December 31, 2024