Minnesotans interested in making it easier for new and emerging farmers to create or sustain an agricultural business are encouraged to apply to join a legislatively created Emerging Farmers’ Working Group through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Interested people can apply by Oct. 2 to serve on the working group, which will have 15 to 20 members and meet on a regular basis, beginning in November, according to MDA assistant commissioner Patrice Bailey.
“Making Minnesota’s agricultural economy more inclusive will benefit our entire state,” he says. “This working group will advise the MDA and the Legislature on how to support emerging farmers and create a climate where everyone who wants to farm can succeed.”
The working group was created as a result of six listening sessions throughout Minnesota in the fall of 2019 convened by MDA. These sessions’ aim was to advance the success and sustainability of farmers who traditionally face barriers to the education and resources necessary to build profitable agricultural businesses, including immigrant farmers and farmers of color.
The findings of those listening sessions were compiled in a legislative report, which recommended creation of a working group to provide guidance to MDA commissioner Thom Petersen on developing programs and initiatives to support emerging farmers in Minnesota.
Anyone is eligible to apply. Priority areas for membership include women, veterans, persons with a disability or disabilities, Native Americans or Alaska Natives, communities of color, and young and urban people.
To apply to serve on the working group, visit the application page. Forms and more information can be found on the Emerging Farmers' webpage.
At the national level, USDA also is reaching out to broaden its reach to serve beginning farmers and ranchers.
The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for four of its agencies — Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Risk Management Agency and Rural Development.
In Minnesota, Liz Ludwig was selected as the USDA Beginning Farmer Rancher state coordinator. She is the Chippewa County FSA executive director in Montevideo. Others on the team coordinating Minnesota’s beginning farmers and rancher efforts include Lisa Buckner, NRCS state appeals specialist; Brad Finstad, Rural Development state director; and Mark Gutierrez, RMA deputy director.
Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer.
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 27% of farmers were categorized as new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience in agriculture.
Learn more about USDA’s resources for beginning farmers as well as more information on the national and state-level coordinators at farmers.gov/newfarmers. For more information on available programs in your area, contact your local USDA Service Center.