One dream: to farm in America

Daily life on a farm outside Lexington, Nebraska, is far from luxurious. However, Vicente Acevedo and Magdalena Barrios wouldn’t have it any other way.

“A typical day: I come home from work, prepare dinner, clean the house, and then I go outside to help feed the animals,” Magdalena said. “There is never a day off. I would rather be at the farm than go out to a party.”

Farming is life for this couple. Both grew up on ranches in rural Mexico — Vicente raising animals and Magdalena helping to cultivate beans and corn.

They immigrated to the United States with a dream: to continue farming.

To accomplish their plans, last year the couple visited their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to apply for a loan to purchase land. However, they came up against a language barrier.

FSA Farm Loan Manager Matthew Meyer knew the Center for Rural Affairs helped beginning Latino farmers and encouraged Vicente and Magdalena to contact us.

Center for Rural Affairs staff Lucia Schulz and Kirstin Bailey were happy to help. They interpreted and assisted with financial statements and business plans.

Vicente and Magdalena were approved for an FSA loan. But assistance didn’t stop there. Center staff shared information on other services offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Farming is our life,” Magdalena said. “If there’s production, whether it’s livestock or produce, there’s progress. We love it.”

Their children also enjoy life on the farm and help with daily chores, similar to what Vicente and Magdalena did when they were children — Magdalena on a ranch near Jerez de Garcia Salinas, Zacatecas, Mexico, and Vicente on a ranch near his birthplace of Tepetongo, Zacatecas, Mexico.

Working with animals was Vicente’s favorite part of farm life as a child, and remains so to this day.

To start their operation near Lexington, he purchased a few calves.

“We enjoyed bottle feeding them,” he said. “Eventually we bought cows and liked it even more.”

Working with Lucia and Kirstin and attending beginning farmer classes has set Vicente and Magdalena on a path toward their ultimate goals.

“The Center turned our desires into reality,” Vicente said.

Now, Vicente and Magdalena have plans to start a rotational grazing operation.

“Our future plan is to continue raising animals and continue to work off the farm,” Vicente said. “If we don’t, we won’t be able to expand our farm. We will continue to care for our land, so it can give us good results.”

The number of cattle under their care is growing, and they hope to raise even more next year.

“A lot of people are in fear because they don’t know or don’t believe that they can do it,” Vicente said. “Everyone should attend the Center’s classes. The Center has opened our eyes. Dreams do come true.”

Feature photo: Vicente Acevedo and Magdalena Barrios welcome Dawson County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agents to their farm last fall. NRCS helped them design a rotational grazing system for their small herd of cattle with conservation in mind. From left: Kevin Gill, NRCS; Vicente; Lucia Schulz, Center for Rural Affairs; Magdalena; and Janelle Taubenheim, NRCS. | Photo by Kirstin Bailey