Understanding the difficult economic times farmers and rural communities have faced for several years, the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) will host two farm crisis forums in February.
Karen Stettler, a program organizer with LSP, said the nonprofit organization’s goal is to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmers and to promote sustainable agriculture while developing healthy communities.
In recent years, LSP has done an increasing amount of work with farm transition. Stettler said their conversations with the Minnesota Farm Advocates helped them recognize that there were many farmers in mediation or financial crisis.
Looking back to the crisis of the 1980s, the groups noted farmers came together to support one another.
“It was with that idea that we felt it was important to lay out what resources were available and bring people together to think about solutions, take action and move forward,” Stettler said.
Bringing in farmers, as well as financial and legal experts, LSP is hosting Farm Crisis Forum: Resiliency & Resources at the Peace United Methodist Church in Elgin, Minn. on Feb. 12 from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Additionally, LSP is offering a dairy crisis meeting and farm crisis forum Feb. 13 at the St. Columban Catholic Church in Preston, Minn. from 10:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.
“As an organization with the grassroots driving all that we do, it is just a very natural place to start where farmers are talking with farmers and talking about real situations,” Stettler said. “We hope that we can move toward some solutions that will help in their bigger picture of crisis.”
Although there has been some optimism in agriculture with breakthroughs in trade deals, Stettler said more than half of the farmers and ranchers have lost money over the last six years.
“One can only be resilient for so long to withstand some of that,” Stettler said. “Anything that rebounds is going to be helpful for sure, but there are some underlying factors that are providing hardship for farmers to get the fair price that they really need.”
Beyond being an issue for agriculture, Stettler said the farm crisis has been a concern for rural communities as a whole.
“We want vibrant, rural communities,” Stettler said. “We need farmers farming. We need communities coming together to support farmers.”
The meetings are free to attend, but LSP asks those interested to RSVP by Monday. To RSVP, people can call 507-523-3366.