Kaitlyn Riley, WIZM, December 10, 2019
Minnesota agriculture officials are seeking opportunities to expand the diversity of its farmers.
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will host its final listening session about emerging farmers in Rochester, Minn.
The Emerging Farmers Working Group offers the session as an opportunity for beginning and potential farmers to describe the barriers they face and possible solutions to overcome them.
The goal is to advance the success and sustainability of indigenous farmers, immigrant farmers, farmers of color and others who traditionally cannot access the resources necessary to build a profitable agricultural business.
Patrice Bailey, MDA assistant commissioner, explained that the group is the beginning for creating a task force that was promised by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan during her campaign.
“We want to have people of color, native, indigenous people in addition to existing farmers, to work together to have a mentorship opportunity,” Bailey said. “They might be someone living in the metro of Minneapolis and St. Paul and not really knowing where their food comes from, but we also have ways in which they can get started to be an entrepreneur.”
As someone who was raised in Harlem, New York, Bailey saw himself as proof that everyone can contribute to agriculture.
“I never saw a tractor in my life until I went to college for agriculture,” Bailey said.