Protecting Our Communities

In the last century Black farmers lost 90% of their property, totaling 16 million acres worth $350 billion. This is a stark difference from White farmers, who have lost just 2% in the same time frame.

Discriminatory Loans

In 2020, the USDA approved 71% of loan applications from White farmers, but a much lower 37% from Black farmers

Protecting Black Farmers

We Can:

  • End a stream of systematic racism and unfair policy

  • Repair our agricultural infrastructure

  • Provide relief to disenfranchised farmers

Throughout American history, Black farmers have routinely seen the negative effects of systemic racism and unfair policies.[1] This is a growing problem, with fewer approved federal loans and statistically shrinking numbers of Black farmers in the US.[2] 

 

For centuries, Black farmers in America have been severely disadvantaged and discriminated against by federal and state programs.[3] In 1862, two different acts were passed: the Homestead Act and the Morrill Land Grant Act. These acts took land from tribal nations, more than 270 million acres by 1934, and transferred them to predominantly White farmers.[4] This makes up around 10% of land in today’s United States and gave more than 1.6 million mostly White families an advantage in farming, bolstering an already unbalanced playing field[5]. This unevenness continued throughout the rest of American history.

 

To aid the country after the Great Depression, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) was founded and given the ability to control crop allotments.[6] However, the committees that decided this often acted in the interest of only White farmers and left Black farmers with significantly less, obstructing their ability to thrive.[7] Well into the later parts of US history, instances of discrimination against Black farmers occurred, with loan discrimination and discriminatory policies[8].

 

Unfortunately, the trends we see in the past resulting from detrimental practices continue today. Disproportionately low levels of Black farmers and unfair lending practices have not been adequately addressed and the past mistakes of this country have not yet been remedied. According to a study done by the USDA, Black farmers made up 14% of this country’s producers a century ago. Now, they make up only around 1.4%.[9] The same source reports that in that time, Black farmers lost 90% of their property, totaling 16 million acres worth $350 billion.[10] This is a stark difference from White farmers, who have lost just 2% in the same time frame.[11]

 

To make this issue worse, the system we have in place makes it difficult for Black farmers to begin and thrive in the farming industry. Analyzing government data, POLITICO concluded that, in 2020, the USDA approved 71% of loan applications from White farmers, but a much lower 37% from Black farmers.[12] With these loans being used for things like land, equipment, and repairs [13], it's clear to see how Black farmers are being put at a significant disadvantage.

 

[1] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[2]  https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/video/the-history-of-discrimination-against-black-farmers-in-the-us/

[4] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[5] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[6] https://www.eater.com/22291510/black-farmers-fighting-for-farmland-discrimination-in-agriculture

[7] https://www.eater.com/22291510/black-farmers-fighting-for-farmland-discrimination-in-agriculture

[8] https://www.eater.com/22291510/black-farmers-fighting-for-farmland-discrimination-in-agriculture

[9] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[10] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[11] https://www.splcenter.org/news/2022/02/18/fighting-grow-black-farmers-continue-battle-systemic-discrimination

[12] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/05/black-farmers-left-out-usda-497876

[13] https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/05/black-farmers-left-out-usda-497876

Education

So, What Can We Do?!

It's clear that discrimination against Black farmers is a persistent issue that needs to be focused on. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer services must propose a two-pronged plan that will directly address the injustices of current lending practices as well as facilitate the success and vitality of Black farmers statewide.

 

Restructuring of Farm Debts

In the Florida Statutes, under Chapter 570.07(13), the Commissioner of Agriculture is permitted to protect the agricultural and horticultural interests of the state. Under Chapter 570.82(1a), the Agriculture Department in Florida is able to restructure farm debts in the occurrence of any socioeconomic conditions in the state. Because Black farmers are pertinent to the agricultural interests of the state, the combination of these points makes it possible for this office to restructure debt owed by Black farmers. Doing this will provide relief for Black farming families and lighten the centuries-old burden of debt. While this isn’t a complete solution, it alleviates hardships and allows for other points of action to be effective.

 

Loan Program for Black Farms

The second point in the proposed plan works with the Florida legislature and governor to create loan plans focusing on Black farmers. It's been established that Black farmers have long been the victims of unfair practices and systemic racism in the US. Because of this, they have not and still are not on level ground in terms of loans. In the Florida Statutes, under Chapter 570.07, the office of Commissioner of Agriculture is permitted to meet and make recommendations to the governor and legislature of the state of Florida. This plan will involve meeting with both, presenting the relevant information, and officially recommending a loan program that works solely to remedy the inadequacies of the current lending system.

A Two-Pronged Plan

As Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner, I am proposing a two-pronged plan that directly addresses the issue, targeting the discriminatory lending system and current farm debts in order to level the playing field and facilitate the success of Black farmers.