2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jennifer Johanna Kalyuzhny

Jennifer Johanna Kalyuzhny

Name of Host Organization: Farmers' Legal Action Group
City, State: St. Paul, Minnesota
Issue area: Immigrant Populations/Minorities, Community/Economic Development
Sponsors: Deere & Company, Inc; Lane & Waterman LLP; Schiff Hardin LLP

The Project

Jennifer helped low-income immigrant and beginning family farmers in Minnesota navigate myriad legal issues and access government programs through direct representation, outreach and education, and administrative advocacy.

The Inspiration

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Need Addressed By Project: 
Many of Minnesota's new farmers come from Hmong, Latino, and other immigrant communities who aspire to make a living by reclaiming their cultural traditions in farming. Often living in poverty, these farmers have achieved a fragile success, which is threatened every day by significant legal, administrative, and cultural conflicts and misunderstandings. Farming is a heavily regulated industry that requires thorough understanding of zoning, food safety, environmental, and other applicable laws. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) agricultural loan, insurance, and risk management programs are critical financial lifelines, but require adherence to strict criteria and deadlines. Minnesota USDA officials often lack the cultural competence needed to effectively help immigrant farmers whose native language is not English. Also, USDA officials often are unfamiliar with the smaller, diversified operations managed by many beginning farmers. Immigrant and beginning farmers need legal assistance to ensure access to government benefits critical to small farm surviva
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Jennifer:
• Provided full representation to nearly 100 immigrant and beginning farmers on such matters as lease negotiations and drafting, cooperative formation and governance, and accessing government farming programs
• Collaborated with partner organizations to hold 26 workshops and trainings that reached more than 500 immigrant and beginning farmers on a wide range of legal topics, including government cost-sharing programs for farmers, civics, loan programs, labor and employment law for small-scale vegetable farmers, farm internships, farm transitions and leasing, accepting food stamp vouchers, and licensing requirements for produce reselling
• Researched, written, and published the “Farmers’ Guide to the Farm Service Agency Microloan Program,” a comprehensive guide to help all potential borrowers—from immigrant farmers with no credit history to more seasoned borrowers—access the agency’s microloan program
• Created and distributed legal educational materials to nearly 1,000 farmers



Biography

Hometown:

Rochester, Minnesota

Law school:

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