The Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women in Minnesota, Minnesota Food Association, and USDA-Farm Service Agency will jointly co-host the Sixth Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference on February 4-5, 2011 at the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters Event Hall, 710 Olive Street, St. Paul, Minn.
The theme of the 2011 Conference is “Planting Seeds for Success on your Farm.” The two-day conference will focus on important topics for the farmers that include whole farm planning, season extension, organic practices, finding resources for your farm, seed saving, poultry production and diversifying markets.
Keynote presenters at the conference are Dr. Yang Dao, a Hmong scholar and diplomat with a deep understanding of the role of farming in the Hmong community and Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture has been invited to speak of the importance of small vegetable producers to our economy.
Registration is on line at www.mnfoodassociation.org, or by calling MFA at 651-433-3676, or the Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women in Minnesota at 651-222-0475.
The major barriers for success in farming for minority vegetable growers in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, and also other regions in the nation, are: access to and knowledge of markets, access to agricultural land and language and cultural barriers. The upcoming conference provides welcome opportunities for minority and underserved farmers who have many needs for sustained successes in their small farm operations.
The 2007 Census of Agriculture shows that immigrants are among the fastest growing sector of farmers today. Immigrant farmers are passionate about and experienced in agriculture, and have shaped the character of U.S. agriculture throughout American history. While the number of farms in our country has been declining since WWII, the census now shows a leveling of this trend which can be partially accredited to the increasing numbers of immigrant farmers across all demographic groups. Immigrant farmers are diverse in terms of country of origin, where they live, what they produce and how they sell. By supporting these new and aspiring farmers, we not only will ensure that there will be adequate supply of local foods available in our communities, but also contribute to local economic development and healthy communities.
The conference plans for interpretation into Hmong, Spanish, Karen, Bhutan and Somali languages. The conference hosts invite farmers of any language to register. Interested participants please call the hosts with translation or other needs.
The training conference fosters partnerships between non-governmental community-based organizations, UMN and other education institutions, MDA, and the USDA Agencies to assist minority, limited resources and underserved farmers in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.
This conference is free to farmers and otherwise costs $20 for one day or $30 for two days. The deadline to signup is Monday, January 24, 2011. Interested farmers and CBOs should contact Ly Vang, at 651-222-0475, e-mail: [email protected]; Joci Tilsen at 651-443-3676 ext. 14 or e-mail: [email protected]; and Nigatu Tadesse at 651-602-7705 or email [email protected].