Hmong farmers celebrate ‘huge milestone’ of buying 155 acres in Dakota Co.

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2022

By Mark Zdechlik

Minnesota’s Hmong American Farmers Association is celebrating its recent purchase of 155 acres of land in Dakota County.

The group said the land acquisition, in the works for a decade, will help many Hmong farm families build up their operations and plan for the long-term. The Hmong American Farmers Association announced earlier this month that the sale had closed.

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“This is truly a huge milestone for Hmong farmers,” said Janssen Hang, the association’s executive director. “Hmong farmers have been such an integral component to our local food system in Minnesota here since the late 1980s.”

The group had been leasing the land along U.S. Highway 52 for several years. Thanks to $2 million from a state program, it was able to acquire the parcel where 100 Hmong farmers grow a variety of crops. The association said it will be “the first Hmong nonprofit-owned farm that was created by Hmong farmers for Hmong farmers.”

“Our mission, our values (are) about building intergenerational wealth,” Hang said. “And without long-term land access … then we would not be building intergenerational wealth. And so securing this property would mean that not only are we securing long-term land access just for current farmers, but also for future generations of farmers.”

Hang says farmers who rent land from the association will pay considerably less than they would elsewhere. He also said shared amenities, including irrigation, allow the farmers there to make more money per acre than they would elsewhere.

The group noted that in celebrating the land purchase, there remains some uncertainty about how planned construction along Highway 52 may affect the property — including “the potential displacement of our farmer members due to eminent domain.”