Department of Agriculture seeks new director to help emerging farmers grow in Minnesota
Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture is trying to hire a new director for the Emerging Farmers Office by mid-August, a position that officials say is the first of its kind in the country.
The state Legislature funded the position last session to help emerging farmers learn about opportunities in agriculture in Minnesota.
“The way it is today, it can’t continue to be the way it is,” Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “Without having all these new young immigrant, emerging farmers, to play a huge part in the success of agriculture in Minnesota.”
The average age of a Minnesota farmer is 57 years old, according to the state.
The director of emerging farmers will help lead outreach efforts involving farming services, educational resources and financial assistance opportunities for those looking to get into agriculture.
“I think we’re in a unique space to be able to do in a such a way that hasn’t been done before,” Bailey said.
“Back home we have a lot of help, here it’s just individual, do your own thing,” farmer Jane Windsperger said.
Windsperger has reached out to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to learn about opportunities.
Back in Kenya, Windsperger grew up in a farming family.
Now she raises crops in Anoka County and recently started a farm in Kanabec County.
“Very exciting, I’m very excited,” Windsperger said. “I’ve been struggling clearing the land and making it good to farm, but now it’s ready.”
Windsperger believes the new director position will be a voice for other emerging farmers in Minnesota.
“For someone who stands for the farmer is going to be very helpful, very helpful,” Windsperger said.
More information about emerging farmers opportunities is available on the Department of Agriculture’s website.