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Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s support of emerging farmers

Contributed by: Patrice Bailey, Minnesota Department of Agriculture 

As the MDA’s Assistant Commissioner in charge of outreach, I want to tell you why I think outreach is so important. With the stagnant farm economy, focusing our agency-wide outreach activities to farmers, ranchers and stakeholders who can benefit from our programs and services is more important than ever. Too often we hear, “I didn’t know you had a program that could help me.” And often that message is coming from underserved communities.

Picture of Patrice Bailey standing on stairs
Patrice Bailey was appointed to the position of Assistant Commissioner in June 2019. Bailey oversees Outreach, Agricultural Marketing and Development, Dairy and Meat Inspection, and Food and Feed Safety for the MDA.

It’s important that we listen to our stakeholders and act to address disparities when we hear about or see them. For example, if we hear that information is difficult to find on our website, we should examine ways to make those resources easier to find. It may seem small in the big scheme of things, and sure it takes time to make changes, but it also goes a long way in letting people know we heard their concern and we responded. We should also incorporate translation services into our marketing initiatives on a routine basis so that these materials are readily available in multiple languages.

Bolstering our partnerships with organizations that represent underserved communities is so important in fostering cultural understanding and minimizing distrust of government agencies. We need to ensure that we are reaching these underserved communities — minority farmers/ranchers and landowners/operators (including African-Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asian/Pacific Americans, Hispanics), women farmers, and new or beginning farmers and ranchers (including youth and veterans — and of course there are others.

In the last few weeks, MDA has been traveling the state holding listening sessions regarding Emerging Farmers. We have been in Crookston, Marshall, Duluth and St. Cloud. Our final listening session will be in Rochester tomorrow on December 11. If you are interested in joining us, RSVP:  and you do not have to be an Emerging Farmer to attend. If you have any questions, contact Patrice Bailey at 651-238-4523 or

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