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Report highlights barriers some face to become a farmer in Minnesota

Updated: February 28, 2020 05:26 PM

The Department of Agriculture is working on ways to eliminate barriers for those who want to become farmers.

This includes a new task force to help people achieve that goal.

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Eric and Rachel Sannerud are farmers and started in high school. 

"I just love the work, I really enjoy being outside," said Rachel Sannerud, who lives in Milaca.

They own their land in Milaca but admit it's not easy getting started. 

"Yeah, it can be really hard if you're not inheriting land or you're not related," Eric Sannerud said.

That's why they're part of the Young Farmer's Coalition, which is helping engage the next generation. 

"It feels good to be sharing our stories and also opening it up for other folks stories," Rachel Sannerud said. 

Patrice Bailey is the assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and agrees family farms are a big part of the industry. But that's part of the reason why he helped draft a report to find out what's preventing someone from becoming a farmer. 

"You're talking about access to financial capital, access to land, even the access to the information of knowing how to get grants and loans," Bailey said. 

The report identifies "emerging farmers" as those who are entirely new to it or those who may feel like they're not recognized by the industry. Those include young people, women, veterans, people of color, those with disabilities and LGBTQ farmers. 

"It's really shining a light on, 'Yeah we have a lot of barriers that we need to address,'" Bailey said. 

The average age of farmers in Minnesota is 56, and the new task force is helping these emerging farmers by creating a one-stop shop with training resources, funding opportunities and more.

"It's a conversation that we need to have," Rachel Sannerud said. 

The path to a career in agriculture doesn't look the same for everyone, and Eric and Rachel realize that. 

"What this report really did a good job of highlighting is that all young farmers have barriers, some have a lot more than others," Eric Sannerud said. 

To read the entire report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture visit the link here

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Brett Hoffland

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