Production, Yield, and Market Analysis of Produce Raised by Minnesota Hmong American / Immigrant Farmers.
Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG), is a 25--‐year--‐old nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services and support to family farmers and their communities in order to help support family farmers’ livelihoods and keep them on the land. Hmong American and other immigrant farmers have a prominent presence in the Twin Cities Metro Area’s markets and local foods production. Unfortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers programs, particularly with crop insurance, based largely on commodity crops (like corn and soybeans), or other commonly grown crops—not based on the vast variety of vegetables grown by Hmong American farmers, such as bitter melon, Thai eggplant, and Chinese long beans.
In an effort to accommodate smaller--‐scale or specialty crop growers, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers financial assistance to producers of non--‐ insurable crops through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). However, many immigrant farmers are reluctant to apply to NAP, primarily because of time constraints and literacy barriers. These obstacles make it difficult and sometimes impossible for immigrant farmers to participate in NAP, making them more susceptible to economic hardship if disaster strikes.
Throughout the harvest months of 2011 (July--‐September), the student Research Assistant (RA) collected yields, production, and market data for crops commonly grown by Hmong American farmers in the Twin Cities Metro Area. The project’s intent was to fill in the gaps in the Minnesota crop table in order to establish a basis for Hmong--‐American and other immigrant farmers to more easily 4 gain eligibility for FSA crop insurance. Access to crop insurance and other farm programs will make it possible for these low--‐income farmers to more quickly recover from disasters and ensure a more comfortable and profitable livelihood.