Best of Neighborhood News 9/19: Somali immigrants utilize farmer training program to establish farms in Minnesota

For many immigrants with hopes of making a living off farming, owning and operating a farm can seem like an impossible task between startup costs, attaining Minnesota agricultural knowledge and finding a market for produce. The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) works to alleviate some of these challenges by offering an in-depth, hands-on farm training program for immigrants, refugees and other individuals from historically marginalized communities. As part of this program, many Somali immigrants, including Naima Dhore, have been able to find success in organic farming, sustaining the food system and carving out a niche for immigrant farmers to develop and hone agricultural skills. “The most important piece in the process for me has been letting [members of the East African community] know where their food is coming from and what their responsibilities are in terms of taking care of this planet that we all share,” said Dhore. “That’s the biggest takeaway.”

Read more at The Somali American. Continue Reading

Buffers: farmer mentions removal of Dakota people, whines about land grabs in same breath

The tweet above by a friend who attended the Governor’s buffer initiative meeting in Worthington was fleshed in a Worthington Daily Globe article by Julie Buntjer, Dayton’s buffer initiative targets water quality:A New Ulm-area farmer was the first to speak up, saying that of the 55 million acres in Minnesota, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages more than 5 million acres, and 27 million acres is in production agriculture.“I foresee this as a land grab,” the man said. “My ancestors settled in southern Minnesota in 1858. They removed the Native Americans from this property to gain access to it, and now I look at our government moving us off of our land.”Moerke noted in a message that this statement caused some in the audience to groan.  Buntjer reports on the governor’s response:“We’re not trying to take your land away, but when it comes to runoff and stuff going into the water, that’s a different story,” Dayton responded. “If everything were good out there, there’d be no reason to get involved with it.”He then turned the table on the crowd, asking for solutions to clean up Minnesota’s waters.Covering the same meeting, MInnesota Public Radio’s Mark Steil reports in Plan to curb runoff too costly, unworkable, farmers tell Dayton:At a meeting in Worthington Thursday, farmers said they want to help solve the problem. But many told Dayton his plan goes too far and would take too many acres of cropland out of production.”I foresee this as a land grab,” said Tim Waibel of New Ulm, Minn. “When you start taking 50 feet of my ditch slopes away, it hurts you in the back pocket.”Moerke confirmed that Waibel is the same guy who mentioned that his ancestors removed Native Americans from the land and he now fears a land grab by the government.  This is a curious take from a guy who grabbed $588,971 in farm subsidies between 1995-2001, $4,765 of which came from conservation subsidies, between 1995 and 2012, according tothe EWG Farm Subsidy Database.Here’s a screengrab of the payments:[Another sign of Tim Waibel’s oppression are the crop subsidies he’s received, via EWG Farm Subsidies Database. He’s a victim.]Waibel’s farm property is locate in rural Courtland, Nicollet County. Courtland is a small town near New Ulm.  Waibel’s wife, Mary Jean Waibel, received $115,293 in subsidies from 2006 through 2012, according to the EWG database.In an added twist of irony, the New Ulm Journal reported in 2008 that the Pawlenty administration gave the Waibels a good neighbor award. Continue Reading

While Franson opponent freaks out over ditch weed, Farm Bill oks hemp research in nine states

Sue Nelson, the Tea Party member challenging incumbent conservative Republican state representative Mary Franson, continued her holy war against ditch weed on Facebook Tuesday. Along with several other Minnesota Republicans, Franson supports allowing Minnesota farmers to grow hemp for fiber, building materials and other non-recreational purposes. Continue Reading

Farm Bill is SNAP protection, but little progress

When I talk to my clients about SNAP, the most common refrain I hear is, “I only get $15 a month from SNAP. How is anyone supposed to survive on that?” For most recipients, SNAP is intended to be a supplement to other income. But when you’re an elderly couple with a combined income of $1,500 a month, you don’t have a lot of other leftover funds to supplement your $15 of SNAP. Once you’ve covered your rent, utilities, medical expenses, transportation, and other basic needs, every dollar matters. Continue Reading

NAFTA and US farmers—20 years later

One of the clearest stories from the NAFTA experience has been the devastation wreaked on the Mexican countryside by dramatic increases in imports of cheap U.S. corn. But while Mexican farmers, especially small-scale farmers, undoubtedly lost from the deal, that doesn’t mean that U.S. farmers have won. Prices for agricultural goods have been on a roller coaster of extreme price volatility caused by unfair agriculture policies, recklessly unregulated speculation on commodity markets, and increasing droughts and other climate chaos. Each time prices took their terrifying ride back down, more small- and medium-scale farmers were forced into bankruptcy while concentration of land ownership, and agricultural production, grew. Continue Reading