Exploring Beginning Latino Farmers and Ranchers' Willingness to Become Involved in Community Activities in Rural Missouri
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In 2013, we conducted two workshop series, each consisting of 10 sessions, focused on how to improve financial capacity of agribusiness and to gain access to community resources. As part of the workshops, eighteen Latino farmers and ranchers in Southwest Missouri completed a survey that analyzed their disposition towards becoming involved in community activities over the upcoming six months. The willingness of the Latino farmers and ranchers to become involved in community activities was explored across five indicators: 1. to be more engaged in community leadership roles, 2. to form new connections in the community, 3. to display more tolerance when working with others, 4. to develop a community action plan, and 5. to implement a community project. A total of 140 answers to each indicator were collected from participants and were analyzed using symmetric responses, where 1 was coded as "not willing," 2 was coded as "reluctant," 3 as "neutral," 4 as "moderate willing," and 5 as "very willing." Participants' responses to each of those five indicators showed that many (46%, 43%, 51%, 53% and 48%) beginning farmers and ranchers were "very willing" to involve themselves with community projects and activities during the upcoming six months. The willingness of participants to become involved in community activities helped us to know their predisposition to integrate and assimilate into the communities where they lived. It is argued that Latino immigrants have trouble assimilating into mainstream US culture (Huntington, 2004), and those who do assimilate, belong to a cluster with the following characteristics: spatial concentration, high incomes, intermarriage, English fluency and high levels of embeddedness in Anglo-social contexts (South et al. 2005, Waters & Jimenez, 2005). The predisposition to participate in community activities is positively related with Waters and Jimenez's perception (2005) that US communities have evolved in absorbing new immigrants and continual immigrant replenishment makes assimilation less visible. Other factors influencing positive integration and assimilation may be attributed to the population size of that immigrant group in the community and the population size of the rural community where they immigrated. A multistate conference about integration of immigrants Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference Latinos in the Heartland: Growing Together in New Destination Areas www.cambio.missouri.edu/Library/ Key words: beginning Latino farmers and ranchers, immigrant integration, rural communities.