Chrysler’s photography-led commercial featuring their RAM trucks is a memorable tribute to farm operators. The two-minute commercial that aired during the Super Bowl was centered around Paul Harvey’s 1978 “So God Made A Farmer” speech and featured more than a dozen faces of people working in agriculture.
But the commercial leaves some groups of farmers out.
There is growing ethnic and racial diversity among farm operators nationwide, and the percentage of women operators is up, according to the latest Census of Agriculture published in 2007.
Of the 2.2 million farms in the United States, 1.83 million have a white male principal operator. But the growth in the number of non-white operators has outpaced the overall industry growth.
- The 2007 Census counted a total of 79,703 American Indian or Alaska Native operators on 61,472 farms and ranches across the United States.
- The 2007 Census counted a total of 20,417 Asian operators on 15,360 farms and ranches across the United States. The count of Asian operators grew 40 percent from 2002, significantly outpacing the 7 percent increast in U.S. operators overall.
- A total of 55,570 U.S. farms had a principal operator of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin in 2007, up 10 percent from 2002.
- The 2007 Census counted a total of 41,024 black operators on 32,938 farms and ranches across the United States. The number of black operators grew 9 percent from 2002, outpacing the 7 percent increase in U.S. farm operators overall.
- Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators counted in 2007 Census, 30.2 percent – or more than 1 million – were women.
“God Made a Farmer. Then USDA decimated black ones,” tweeted Melissa Harris-Perry shortly after the commercial aired, referencing the ad’s narration and USDA’s problematic history.
In 2011, a federal judge approved a $1.25 billion settlement in a lawsuit filed against the USDA by thousands of black farmers. The group of farmers said that they experienced widespread racial bias from the department when they were denied loans and other programs throughout the 1980’s and ’90s.
Most recently, in September 2012, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that women and Latino farmers who feel the agency denied them loans because of their race or gender between 1981 to 2000 can file claims alleging discrimination
The ad titled “Farmer” was created in partnership with The Richards Group of Dallas, Texas.