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Exploring Pacific Island and Asian American Agriculture

Posted by Alex Nseir & Jim Barrett, Public Affairs Specialists, National Agricultural Statistics Service in Equity Research and Science
May 19, 2021
California farmer Leonardo Aguila smiles standing in front of his dragon fruit crop

Every May, we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month. It’s a time to recognize and honor the contributions of the AAPI community to all aspects of American life, including agriculture.

Farmer and U.S. Navy veteran Leonardo Aguila is just one of America’s 25,310 Asian producers (PDF, 1.3 MB), according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Aguila grows 60 varieties of dragon fruit on his farm in Southern California, both for plant and fruit sales. Forty-five percent of Asian producers in the United States live and farm in California or Hawaii. More than half (52%) of Asian-operated farms specialize in production of specialty crops, compared with 9% of U.S. farms overall.

Born in the Philippines, Aguila immigrated to Guam as a young man. He served in the U.S. military and as a civilian employee for the Department of the Navy. When he retired from service, he decided to try his hand at farming in California.

Along with American Samoa (PDF, 554 KB) and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (PDF, 557 KB), Guam (PDF, 555 KB) is one of three outlying areas or U.S. territories in the Pacific included in USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Census of Agriculture program. The information gathered through the census is critical to understanding and meeting the needs of all U.S. producers.

For more U.S. agriculture statistics, visit the NASS website. If you are a producer who did not receive the last Ag Census, let your voice be heard by signing up to be counted in the 2022 Census of Agriculture.

Category/Topic: Equity Research and Science