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
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.
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