6 struggling Asian farmers in Valley get financial assistance

An overwhelming majority of local Asian farmers have not received any federal pandemic assistance funding.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- With many farmer's markets closed due to 'stay at home' orders, several local small farmers have let their crops go to waste.

Southeast Asian farmers have been especially hard hit.

The work in their fields is continuing even though demand for the fresh produce has all but dried up.

"It's really hard right now because I pick a whole box, but half of it only goes out, and then I have to pack half of it back home," says farmer Cecilia Vang.

Vang sells everything from cucumbers to tomatoes and zucchini at a farmer's market in Oakland. For the past two months, crowds have been sparse. The other farmer's market she usually goes to is currently closed.

One month ago, Chong Ge Xiong told us about his struggles after he had to let all of his harvest-ready crops go to waste.

On Friday, there was a glimpse of joy. He was one of six small farmers to get a $2,500 grant. It's the first money he's received that he didn't earn.

"This is my livelihood and even if I'm going to quit today, it's not going to do me any good. Because I have to continue. This is what I've been doing for a long time. Even though it's a small amount to a large amount it's still something, better than nothing for my family," he says.

The small but very meaningful grants were provided by non-profits like CAFF or Community Alliance with Family Farmers and other philanthropists.
According to the Asian Business Institute and Resource Center, an overwhelming majority of local Asian farmers have not received any federal pandemic assistance funding.

"The check that we give them is not going to replace the loss that they have for this cycle already but we hope this can at least help them pay for the next cycle to provide some level of sustainability," says Blong Xiong of the institute.

Most local small Asian farmers lost a majority of their winter crops. The financial loss has caused a lot of anxiety and depression.

"Some nights my parents, especially my mom, will come home from the market and then cry and say, 'I don't know how we're going to do this for a whole year or however long until this pandemic is over'," says farmer Tou Vang.

Those who received the financial gift said they plan to reinvest the money into their summer crops, using it to pay for plants, fertilizer, and fuel for tractors.

The farmers are hoping to get more relief through a program that allows them to give their crops to places like food banks and, in turn, get a wholesale profit. The grants on Friday have brought a lot of optimism.

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