Browse Tag

black farmers

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Black Farmer’s Are Fighting to Be Saved As The Number of Black Owned Farms Grows Smaller

Black farmers in the U.S. have shouldered many blows, but this time, their livelihoods are seriously at risk of extinction. The days when Black farms flourished around the nation are long gone, and now out of the 3.4 million farmers in the U.S. today, only 45,000 are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

So, what happened? How did we go from nearly 1 million Black farms to fewer than 36,000 today? Black farmers say that a combination of systematic racism, discriminatory government policies, and more recently, the effects of the pandemic have led to their downfall.

Without loans from lenders such as the USDA that allows farmers to buy seed, scale, and support themselves during the times between harvest, Black farmers are forced to shut down their farms and say goodbye to a legacy of agriculture.

According to Natalie Belize, author of “We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy,”the cycle of the mistreatment of Black farmers has persisted for decades, and its “cascading” effects leaves farmers paralyzed as they face a mountain of growing debt.

And now, with the disproportionate economic and physical effects of the pandemic on Black people, Black farmers require critical help and fast. But just when the government has finally stepped up to the plate to provide financial relief for Black farmers, a judge has pushed back and put the money on hold as white farmers cry reverse discrimination.

If passed, the relief plan proposed by the Biden administration will provide $4 billion in loan forgiveness for socially disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Alaskan native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander farmers. White farmers are ineligible for relief, hence why they believe that the relief package is unconstitutional.

But non-White farmers have been victims of the mistreatment of the USDA for over a century. Not only were Black people not given the 40 acres and a mule following the Civil War that they were promised, but since then, they have been repeatedly denied loans, forced to foreclose their farms, and watch as white farmers reaped the benefits.

Although the USDA has many spokespersons who say that the institution is committed to eradicating racist and discriminatory practices, many Black farmers just don’t buy it, like John Wesley Boyd Jr.

“I think discrimination is still pervasive. I think that it’s done in a much subtler way,” Boyd said to CBS News. “I don’t think you’re going to see many USDA officials spitting on people now or maybe calling them colored, but they aren’t lending them any money—the way they lend White farmers.”

The relief program that Black farmers have been desperately waiting for is still halted and in the hands of U.S. Judge Marcia Morales Howard. So as white and Black farmers alike wait for a motion to be ruled, all Black farmers can do now is continue to fight and keep hope so that they stay afloat.

Written by Reese Williams


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Black Farmers Were Intentionally Sold Fake Seeds

Black farmers are taking legal action after they say a seed company purposely sold them bad soy beans.

The farmers think it’s racially motivated and an attempt to push black farmers out of business and out of the industry all together.

“They were effectively duped,” said Thomas Burrell, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association.

black farmers

The association filed a class action lawsuit alleging Stine Seed Company sold fake seed to black farmers on purpose. The lawsuit comes after a bad year for the soybean crop—one that nearly put some farmers out of business.

“It’s a double whammy for these farmers,” Burrell said. “It accelerates their demise and effectively it puts them out of business.”

The group thinks the company targeted the farmers at the annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show held in Memphis.

“We bought nearly $90,000 worth of seed” from Stine Seed, farmer David Hall said. “It’s been known to produce high yield, so you expect it, when you pay the money for it, to produce the high yields.”

At first the farmers say they thought they were doing something wrong. But testing on the seeds found zero germination. Samples show rotten molded seed —not the certified seed they were promised.

“No matter much rain Mother Nature gives you, if the germination is zero the seed is impotent.”

Now, these farmers say they plan to hold the company accountable and they’ll fight legally for what they believe they deserve.

The organization says they did allow the company to walk the soybean fields as well and do their own testing which, according to them, returned with same results.

Myron Stine of Stine Seed Company responded to the suit Tuesday, saying:

“The lawsuit against Stine Seed Company is without merit and factually unsupportable. Stine takes seriously any allegations of unlawful, improper, or discriminatory conduct and is disturbed by the baseless allegations leveled against the company. Upon learning of these claims, the company took swift action to conduct an internal investigation, which has not revealed any evidence that would support these allegations. Stine intends to vigorously defend itself against this meritless lawsuit and has filed a motion to dismiss. Our focus is on continuing to serve all our customers with the highest degree of integrity and respect that are the bedrock of our company’s values.”

 

Source: WREG