Authors: Kate Munden-Dixon*, UC Davis Geography Graduate Group
Topics: Rural Geography, Agricultural Geography, Animal Geographies
Keywords: California, beginning ranchers, multi-generational ranchers, social networks, decision-making, socio-economics
Session Type: Paper
California’s ranching landscape is shifting as new ranchers enter, often with differing socio-economic backgrounds and goals. In contrast to multi-generational ranchers (MGRs), research suggests that first-generation farmers and ranchers (FGRs) are more likely to be younger, highly educated, non-White, non-Hispanic and female (Ahearn and Newton 2009). This talk will briefly discuss findings from a survey of California Cattlemen Association members to identify how FGRs’ operations, values, concerns and information sources differ from MGRs within California. Identifying these differences, as well as the nexus of similarities is critical, as previous research has indicated that understanding variations in FGRs’ operations and decision-making is key to crafting policies and initiatives to support these beginning ranchers and the health of rangelands (Huntsinger & Oviedo, 2014; Roche et al., 2015). The latter half of the presentation will present preliminary findings from an ongoing state-wide study in California that aims to identify the alternative goals of first-generation ranchers and strategies to access rangelands, markets, and information. Through the use of semi-structured interviews and surveys, this project offers an in-depth look into the diversity of first-generation ranchers involved in cattle, sheep and goats. This presentation will conclude with implications for the future of California ranchers and offer potential lessons for other rangelands undergoing demographic transitions.