Hmong farmer

At farmers’ markets across Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Hmong farmers sell vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

The Hmong are an ethnic minority group from East Asia. After the Vietnam War, many fled Laos as refugees, and settled in Minnesota. There, some continue to farm for a living.

But climate change brings new challenges. As winters warm, more pests survive until spring. Pakou Hang of the Hmong American Farmers Association says pests ruined a lot of brussels sprouts last year.

Hang: “And then we also saw a lot of black rot in our broccoli because we had just had so much rain.”

Crop insurance can help. But getting it is cumbersome for many Hmong farmers. Hang says they may raise 60 types of produce in a five-acre plot. And the application asks for details about each. On top of that, many older farmers need a translator.

Hang: “On average, it takes our farmers 13 hours to just fill out an application to apply for the specialty crop insurance – compared to a conventional farmer, where that person might only need 30 minutes or one hour.”

But the Hmong came to the U.S in search of a better life. So Hang says despite these challenges …

Hang: “Still they’re persevering.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Hmong farmer photo credit: Media Mike Hazard / Flikr

Topics: Food & Agriculture