/ Preserverance through tragedy keeps Hmong farmer going with NRCS assistance
Preserverance through tragedy keeps Hmong farmer going with NRCS assistance
Nou Lo is a Hmong poultry producer in Washington County, Ark. She and her husband worked hard on a 40-acre livestock and poultry farm near Lincoln for more than seven years. They had heard about the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from other Hmong producers and decided to visit the Washington County Field Service Center in January 2011 to learn more.
NRCS District Conservationist Rhonda Foster and Soil Conservation Technician Richard Gutierrez visited the Los’ farm and told them about several conservation practices NRCS could assist with including a waste storage facility, composting facility and amendments for treatment of agricultural waste for the poultry operation and, cross fencing and a watering facility for the livestock operation.
The Los were very excited about the assistance they could get from NRCS. Mrs. Lo signed up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the Illinois River Sub-Basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Watershed Initiative (IRWI) to install conservation practices.
A few months had passed when Foster and Noy Phommaxaysy, an NRCS intern from Rhode Island who speaks Hmong, went to visit the Los. Noy translated for Foster the importance of the practice on the farm. Mrs. Lo said she was grateful for their visit but told them her husband had recently been hospitalized for an illness.
Several months later, Mrs. Lo visited the field service center and told the NRCS staff that her husband had passed away the same day of their last visit. She was not sure if she would be able to keep the farm now that her husband was deceased and requested information on what to do. After visiting with the staff and weighing all her options, she later decided to keep the farm.
“Ms. Lo has been a pleasure to work with and has made substantial changes on her farm,” said Gutierrez. “She’s currently installing conservation practices that are helping her poultry operation run much smoother.”
Lo has installed ten composters, a 40-by 80-foot waste storage facility, and had alum treatments in all six of her chicken houses. She is also working with a Hmong contractor who is going to install cross fencing for her livestock operation.
“Before she installed the waste storage facility, she used to store the chicken litter in piles near the chicken houses,” said Foster. “Other farmers who needed fertilizer would come at random and take it away. Now that she has a waste storage facility installed, it will reduce the amount of runoff into the watershed and help with nutrient management on her farm.”
Lo said working with NRCS and the assistance she has been given has made running her operation easier, simpler and better.