Spring 1989 // Volume 27 // Number 1 // Research in Brief // 1RIB2

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Reaching Black Farmers


Christopher N. Hunte
Professor of Sociology
Southern University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Over the past decade, 94% of our nation's black farmers have been displaced. The remaining group who continue to farm need to use modern agricultural technology if they're going to prosper.1 Is Extension servicing this group of farmers? Does Extension need to alter delivery methods to more effectively reach the black farmer?

In 1985, personal interviews were conducted with a randomly selected group of black farmers living in six rural parishes in Louisiana. Questions focused on ways black farmers obtain farming information and the modern agricultural technologies they're using.

Methods of Obtaining Farming Information

Responses from 224 part-time black farmers and 156 full-time black farmers paralleled each other. Ranking the methods of obtaining farming information from the most frequent to the least frequent, the responses were:

  1. Often to sometimes-consult neighbors.
  2. Sometimes-contact Extension agent, receive agricultural bulletins, listen to radio or television.
  3. Sometimes to rarely-read agricultural bulletins, read newspapers, attend workshops.
  4. Rarely to never-take a course.

Modern Agricultural Technology Use

Responses from the entire group of black farmers indicate that less than half of them use any type of modern farming practice in their faming operation; and less than three percent of the farmers with dairy or beef cattle use appropriate new agricultural technologies in their cattle farming operation.


Black farmers receive most of their information on farming from each other. Sometimes they contact the Extension agent, receive bulletins, or hear information on radio or television.

To reach the black farmer with information on new technologies in agriculture, Extension must capitalize on the farmers interactions with each other. Thus, the model farmer or farm demonstrator offers the most promising means to increase the use of modern farm practices among black farmers. The best delivery methods that would help (or provide support) for a model farmers' approach would be direct contact by agents along with a media approach using radio and television.

Although this study didn't ask about the church as a source of information, Hunte2 concluded that black farmers obtain all types of community information from the church. Therefore, seeking ways to deliver the modern farming information through the black church should be explored.


1. "Southern University-Rockefeller Small Farmer Feasibility Study" (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Extension Cooperative Services, Southern University, 1979).

2. Christopher N. Hunte, "Rural Black Leadership: An Assessment of Community Problems" (Paper presented at American Rural Sociological Society, Lexington, Kentucky, 1983).