Report addressing farming future released

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New and potential farmers in Minnesota face multiple barriers that make it more difficult for the next generation to enter or stay in agriculture, more than 200 people told the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in six listening sessions around the state and via the internet in 2019, according to a press release.

The results of those meetings have been collected in the Emerging Farmers in Minnesota report to the Legislature, which is now available on MDA’s website.

The report lays out recommendations on reducing or eliminating those barriers and suggests creation of an Emerging Farmers Task Force to provide expert guidance on how to achieve those goals.

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“When we support emerging farmers, we strengthen the agricultural industry as a whole, which also helps established farmers in their work,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “I am excited by the conversations that we had during these listening sessions, and I look forward to the work we have ahead of us to support emerging farmers across the state now and into the future.”

“People who identify as emerging farmers feel unseen in the current system,” Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “We have tried to identify in this report ways to make our agricultural economy more inclusive to all who want to share in it. This report is an important step in identifying the biggest barriers to entry that prevent many Minnesotans from owning and operating their own farms.”

The category of emerging farmers includes people who identify as women, veterans, people with disabilities, members of communities of color or Indigenous peoples. It may also include people with zero to 10 years of experience, members of the LGBTQ community and others.

Besides recommending legislative establishment of a task force, the report also recommends providing incentives to farm service providers and the MDA to translate their training materials and creating additional grant resources to support emerging farmers.