Through a partnership with American Farmland Trust, digital news publication AGDAILY has created a ground-breaking internship dedicated to diversity in agriculture. Saul Reyes, a senior at California State University-Chico, has been hired into the position for 2022.
Discussing race, diversity, and discrimination in farming and food production is never easy, yet addressing the agricultural industry’s most gut-wrenching, complex, and timely issues has long been central to AGDAILY’s identity.
“We already cover a wide array of crops, livestock, and technology on AGDAILY, along with more difficult topics such as biotechnology and mental wellness,” said Ryan Tipps, managing editor for AGDAILY. “It became a natural progression for us to more deeply examine the important social issues that impact this industry, especially diversity.”
Reyes’ time at Chico State has combined his love of agriculture with social justice advocacy to raise awareness about food insecurity, farmworker rights, lack of diversity in U.S. agriculture, and gaps in agricultural literacy. The FFA alum and first-generation college student from Hanford, California, is double majoring in plant and soil science and multicultural and gender studies, while minoring in intersectional Chicanx/Latinx studies and public relations.
In college, he gained hands-on experience in entomology and weed science and was able to attend the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. Recently, he finished his senior seminar paper titled, Coloring Agriculture: Examination of the Lack of Intersectionality in California Agriculture.
“An issue in the agriculture industry is having a worldwide stable food supply. My goal is to promote social justice, especially within the agriculture industry” Reyes said in a Chico State College of Agriculture article. “I want to increase people of color in the agriculture industry by making it more inclusive to be a part of.”
The hiring of Reyes to explore diversity issues in ag and how minorities contribute to and are impacted by the agricultural industry coincides with AGDAILY’s launch of a resource webpage centered around these topics. The page is supported by American Farmland Trust, a national nonprofit that has spearheaded conservation in agriculture by focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work.
“American Farmland Trust understands that achieving a resilient agricultural system depends on equity, and inclusion for all groups who have been, and still are, marginalized. Ending discrimination against marginalized groups benefits all Americans, contributes to a more resilient agricultural system; a stronger economy, especially in rural areas; and a more equitable social system,” said David Haight, AFT vice president of programs. “AFT believes in deliberate action to effect change and so we have joined with AGDAILY to showcase the voices of agriculture that can help guide us all forward to a future where everyone is included and treated equally in the industry that sustains all of us.”
AGDAILY’s efforts to amplify diversity in agriculture over the past year and a half have manifested themselves through its industry-defining exploration of race and agriculture and through other pieces that have been written about race and minority farmers. Past student leaders of the National FFA Organization and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences have made valuable regular contributions in this space, and AGDAILY has highlighted other demographics that the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies as “Historically Underserved Farmers & Ranchers” — including beginning farmers and veteran farmers — as well as women farmers.
Reyes’ efforts over the next several months will further build upon this foundation.
Ryan Tipps is the founder and managing editor of AGDAILY. The Indiana native has a master’s degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences from Virginia Tech and has covered the food and farming industries at the state and national levels since 2011.