From Laotian Immigrant to Iowa Beginning Farmer

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

David W. Baker, Farm Transition Specialist ISU Extension
Serving all counties in Iowa
10861 Douglas Ave. Urbandale, Iowa 50322
877-232-1999 or 515-252-7801

Your Position


POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­__x___ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­__x___ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­__x___ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­___x__Regional Food Systems
­­­­­__x___Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Title of Success Story

From Laotian Immigrant to Iowa Beginning Farmer

Continuing Story

___x__ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)



Desired Changes

Immigrant from SE Asia will learn how to adapt his subsistence farming background from Laos to be successful at local food production techniques and marketing in Central Iowa. Develop goals of selling production to the Des Moines area population including immigrant and refugee populace for a value-added business to supplement off-farm income.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Extension is a resource of research-based information that can improve the lives of all Iowans. These efforts will assist in integrating new immigrants and refugees into the agricultural workforce in Iowa through educational training in cropland acquisition, financing, record keeping, livestock production, cash flow analysis, crop production and marketing.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

Private consultations and training for immigrants and refugees on agricultural issues and lifestyle changes faced by new residents of Iowa. Introduce client to supporting agencies through farm visits and tours. Referral to web based information and contacts i.e. Beginning Farmer Center, Ag Decision Maker, Iowa Beef Center, PFI.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

The purchase of a small farm completed and progressed from locating suitable financing to free and clear land title status. From 0 crops to 8 varieties of fruits and vegetables planted. Plans developed to add livestock enterprise in next 6 months. Marketing plans initiated for Central Iowa which include 3 farmers’ market opportunities and direct sales to Des Moines residents. Production and sales will be measured by pounds of produce sold and dollars of profit generated.

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Sales of fruits and vegetables increasing as a viable enterprise for socially-disadvantaged citizens on small acreages increasing the selection of healthy locally produced foods for central Iowa residents. Participation in local farmers market as well as building new markets for economic development and profitability. Ownership of land, house, and out buildings as a productive member of our society. This individual has become an inspiration to many other immigrants and refugees and has become a diplomat that displays the opportunities available in Iowa agriculture through perseverance and hard work. Cooperation and collaboration increased between ISU Extension and Lutheran Services of Iowa, Refugee Services Division.


Major Partners or Collaborators

Andy Larson, Small Farm Specialist, Joe Sellers, Beef Specialist

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Central Iowa town of Milo. Food production to be sold in Des Moines, Iowa metro area at farmer’s markets and direct sales.

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

Beginning Farmer Center, College of Ag and Natural Resources.


Beginning Farmer, Socially Disadvantaged, Small farms sustainability, Local foods


Page last updated: July 1, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,