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Farms run by Black Americans make up less than 2 percent of all the country’s farms
Sedrick Rowe was a runningback for Fort Valley State University in Georgia and discovered an organic farm on the grounds of the school. He now grows organic peanuts on two small plots in southwest Georgia.
Rowe is one of the few Black farmers in Georgia. The number of Black farmers has decreased by 98 percent over the past century, according to The New York Times. It’s a statistic that weighs on Rowe, in addition to the history of discrimination and violence that resulted in Black farmers being forced to leave their land.
“It weighs on my mind,” Rowe told the outlet. “Growing our own food feels like the first step in getting more African-American people back into farming.”
Rowe acquired 30 acres of land outside Albany, GA after training with New Communities, a land trust dedicated to helping Black farmers make a living.
With President Joe Biden serving in office, Rowe and fellow Black farmers are looking for change from his administration, which promises to make agriculture a part of his climate change agenda in order to keep planet-warming carbon dioxide locked only in the soil instead of in the atmosphere.
Something like 60% of Black farmers are dealing with this as ‘Heirs property’. There are several orgs working on this – including a full time practice in NC led by the outstanding Mavis Gragg
— Kellee James (@Ksemaj) January 31, 2021
Biden intends to address the legacy of discrimination that Black farmers have faced which resulted in them making up less than two percent of farms today. The president intends to improve access to land, loans, and other resources such as “climate smart” production information.
Biden’s administration is intentional about reversing former President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations which included clean air, water, wildlife, and toxic chemical initiatives.
Some Black farmers voiced their outrage at Biden’s choice for the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tom Vilsack formerly severed during the Obama administration as the agriculture secretary.
Many of the farmers said Vilsack did nothing to undo the decades of racial injustice and discrimination, according to WBUR.
John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association and a farmer from Virginia, voiced his concerns after speaking with Vilsack about whether he’ll help Black farmers if confirmed by Congress.
“We need people of color and people of color who care. I think that’s vitally important. Not just a Black face or a Hispanic face or a woman,” Boyd told WBUR. “We need people who care about these issues because for far too long, Black farmers have been left out of the farm subsidy programs, the lending programs, all of these programs that the USDA has to help farmers.”
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