Dakota County farm will soon be Hmong-owned
The Hmong American Farmers Association has been included in the 2020 Minnesota State Legislature’s infrastructure bonding bill, which Gov. Tim Walz has now signed. HAFA’s executive director says the timing couldn’t be better.
Co-founder and Executive Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association, Janssen Hang, said new funding for the HAFA farm is a game-changer.
A total of 150 farmers grow more than 160 varieties of produce on 155 acres of land in Vermillion Township.
The legislature recently passed a $1.9 billion infrastructure bonding bill that includes $2 million in funding for HAFA.
They’ll use the money to help purchase the farm.
"This is definitely unprecedented … It will be Hmong-owned … It will be HAFA-owned … This is huge," Hang said.
Hand added, "Hmong farmers need access to land so that they can continue to produce food that can provide to our communities, our local food communities."
HAFA says Hmong farmers make up the majority of vegetable growers in the Twin Cities’ Farmers’ Market system, but they earn only $0.64 for every dollar their mainstream counterparts earn in Minnesota.
"As lead author of this bill, I’m proud to see a small but impactful state investment that would sustain the livelihoods of our small farmers while ensuring that our communities continue to have access to local, healthy, fresh food," DFL State Representative Samantha Vang said.
The farm will be used for production, incubation and education, and not just Hmong-owned, but also: "Hmong-operated, Hmong farmers, half a dozen number of trainings, and all of our trainings are bilingual and bicultural as well."
HAFA said the funding will allow for intergenerational progress, giving Hmong farmers the chance to plan years ahead.
"We work with farmers. It’s all about family traditions or contributions to the farm operations here," Hang said.
HAFA hopes this funding will help to change the future landscape.