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Diversity in your farm workforce

kali9/GettyImages A group of three people preparing fresh, organic vegetables on a table beside a field of crops.  They are part of the farm-to-table or farm-to-fork movement in which locally grown food is processed and prepared for local customers.
In a survey, the number one reason organizations said they recruit diverse candidates is to build an environment of diverse perspectives and experiences.

The agricultural industry is diversifying, and so is its workforce. In response, conducted the Workplace Diversity Survey to capture employer’s efforts to address diversity within their organizations.

While the term “diversity” has historically been used to reference differences in race, as evident by Workplace Diversity Survey a more accurate definition would encompass a host of demographics, as well as diversity of thought and experiences.


The term “diversity” can be broadly defined and refer to several demographic variables.  Survey participants were asked what demographics their organization considered when categorizing diverse talent.  The most frequent response was that they included all listed, comprised of ethnicity, nationality, LGBTQIA, gender, disability, religion, and race. 

When asked what diverse talent was represented by the employees of their own organizations, 83% of respondents included females. This was followed by 67% of respondents reporting that more than one race was represented by their employees.


Organizations were nearly evenly split in their response as to whether they have challenges recruiting diverse employees.Interestingly, smaller organizations (50 employees or fewer) report not having challenges with recruiting diverse talent. In fact, 89% of organizations with 26 to 50 employees said they do not have trouble with recruitment. The organizations reporting recruitment difficulty indicated their most prevalent challenge was the lack of diverse applicants. This was followed by the location of jobs, a common industry trend regardless of the targeted audience.

Over half of respondents indicated that their recruiting strategies are aimed at increasing the diversity represented in their organization. The number one reason organizations said they recruit diverse candidates is to build an environment of diverse perspectives and experiences.


Survey data lends to the consensus that typically, employers do not focus on the demographics of an individual, rather they are hiring the best candidate for the job and report that diversity happens naturally.

As with most anything involving human capital, there is room for improvement as the agriculture industry strives to foster diverse workplaces. Consideration should be given as to how more diverse talent can be prepared to excel in higher level roles at their organization. Additionally, organizational leaders can utilize the report to assess how they address workplace diversity challenges and opportunities.

To access the complete Workplace Diversity Survey- 2018 U.S. Edition report visit

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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