Organic Vegetables

Breakout Session One:  Emerging Farmers Program

A shortage of new farmers threatens the future of agriculture. And while there are people who want to farm, new generations of farmers must overcome significant barriers to start and succeed in farming. Traditional patterns of farm entry and farmer support are no longer adequate; farmers of all backgrounds are challenged to find the resources they need to get started in farming.

Hear how the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) offers services, resources, and financial assistance to emerging farmers.

Presenter: Lillian Otieno, MN Dept of Agriculture

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Lillian Otieno (she/her) is the current Emerging Farmer Outreach & Engagement Coordinator for the new Emerging Farmer Office at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Commissioner’s Office, where she also serves on the MDA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. Lillian has worked with the MDA in other outreach roles, most recently with the Produce Safety Program. She is also a 2021 graduate of the State’s Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI). Before joining the MDA Commissioners’ Office, Lillian briefly served as a Public Engagement Liaison with the Office of Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan in 2021 – and again, from April -June 2022 with the Governor’s Office in the same role. Her background spans several years in the food safety industry both in retail and manufacturing. A native of Kenya, a proud mom to two beautiful ladies, and a passionate advocate and community leader. Lillian is the President of the Association of Kenyans in America (AKIA), among other community leadership roles, and sits on the Books for Africa board. Lillian believes that we can all boldly begin to intentionally address the structural and institutional racist systems of oppression, that advance inequity within communities of color. She also believes that relationship building is the foundation that allows for effective engagement and communication that will help break down the “us” versus “them” structures that have plagued state governments and many institutions for decades.