St. Paul, Minn. (Oct. 3, 2014) – Today two Minnesota Farm Credit organizations – AgStar Financial Services, the top provider of agricultural loans in eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin, and AgriBank, its St. Paul, Minn.-based funding bank – presented a $70,000 grant to the nonprofit Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA).
`“When we got this land, it didn’t have the infrastructure our farmers needed. AgStar and AgriBank are providing us with the funding we need to make those improvements, and that is why we are here today,” said Pakou Hang, HAFA’s executive director and founder. “We want to thank them for their faith in us, their belief in us, and their investment.”
Hang went on to explain the long-term impact of HAFA’s efforts. “This farm represents more than just our farmers’ income for this year. The improvements to this land allow them to dream: about how to maximize their farm operation; about how to be the best steward of the land; about how they can provide intergenerational wealth for their families. So I speak on behalf of all of HAFA’s farmers when I thank AgStar and AgriBank. And I believe that future generations will be able to track their wealth and prosperity back to this land and this opportunity.”
“Family-operated, small farming units are a critical part of the local Twin Cities’ food economy, accounting for over 50 percent of all the farmers in the metro-area farmers markets. And they’re a critical part of agriculture,” said John Monson, AgStar senior vice president for investments in rural America. “But they can face a lack of access to land, capital, credit, trainings and markets. HAFA helps these producers with the resources and tools to build a sustainable business model. As I stand here this morning, I’m in awe of HAFA’s work.”
HAFA is well-known as one of Minnesota’s most innovative agriculture programs for new farmers producing locally grown food. The grant will be used for much-needed capital improvements on HAFA’s 155-acre incubator and educational farm in Dakota County.
“As members of the Farm Credit System, it is our mission to serve all agriculture,” said Bill York, CEO of AgriBank. “The story we see today one Farm Credit has supported for nearly 100 years – new farmers, just getting their start in agriculture. I want to congratulate Pakou on all she has accomplished in the very few years since she started HAFA. And I think I speak for everyone here when I say I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.”
The Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) is a nonprofit organization that was created in 2011 to serve, support and advocate for Hmong American farmers and their families. The organization’s mission is to advance the prosperity of Hmong American farmers and their families through economic development, capacity building, advocacy and research. More specifically, HAFA uses an organizing approach to work with its farmers and others in the small, minority farming community to access resources so that they can expand and improve their farming operations, and thereby provide the Twin Cities’ metropolitan community with fresh, locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables. HAFA is the only organization in Minnesota that was started by and is led by Hmong American farmers and it is the only one singularly focused on the advancement of Hmong American farmers and their families.
AgStar Financial Services, ACA, headquartered in Mankato, Minn., employs more than 600 full-time team members. The company is part of the national Farm Credit System and has a public mission to serve 69 counties in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. AgStar’s industry specialization, client segments and market delivery systems result in diversification nationwide. The company has expertise in the corn, soybean, swine, and dairy and bio-energy industries. AgStar has developed successful programs in loans, leases, rural community development, crop insurance, consulting and rural home mortgages. As a value-added financial services cooperative, AgStar allocates patronage dividends to its 15,000 stockholders. The company is also committed to giving back to rural residents, organizations and communities through AgStar’s Fund for Rural America. Visit www.AgStar.com for more information.
AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with more than $85 billion in total assets. Under the Farm Credit System’s cooperative structure, AgriBank is owned by AgStar and 16 other affiliated Farm Credit Associations. The AgriBank District covers America’s Midwest, a 15-state area stretching from Wyoming to Ohio and Minnesota to Arkansas. More than half of the nation’s cropland is located within the AgriBank District, providing the Bank and its Association owners with exceptional expertise in production agriculture. For more information, visit www.AgriBank.com.