The numbers don’t lie, of all US farmers 1.4% identify as Black yet we make up 13.4% of this country’s population. Of the black farmers, on average they produce 30% less than their white competitors. What factors contribute to those numbers? A system geared against us.
The 20th century African Americans lost 326 billion dollars of land directly attributed to discrimination. Just in the South alone, 12 million acres of land where illegally taken from Black farmers. Of those that keep their land, Black farms also don’t operate on a fair playing field. The USDA approves 71% of loans on average, but within our community that number falls all the way to 37%. In fact of all minority groups, we maintain the bottom spot for loan acceptance rates, size, revenue, and income. According to The Department Of Agriculture, a farmer in the US makes on average $160,000 in income a year. What about a black farmer? Just $3,500. The average US farm is 441 acres. Black Farms average 132 acres. You probably are wondering how does a farmer survive on a net income of $3,500? I’d imagine they don’t, over the last 100 years there has been a 1000% decrease in the number of Black farmers.
So what can we do? In short, take part.
- Purchase from and support your black farmers at every opportunity! Engage with them so they can help better serve you and your local community and so that the community can help uplift our black farmers as beacons within the community.
- If you have young family members or friends, plant a community garden or help an already established one. Community gardens and church farms like those that make up the BCFSN are a gateway for many into a love of agriculture and a great way to introduce a young one into what is a viable, dignified way to make a living.
- Make your voice heard and vote! Ask your local officials running for elected offices what their plan is to address the disparities and inequalities faced by Blacks in the food system as a whole and specifically those pertaining to our farmers. Vote based on the answers or lack thereof you receive.
- Purchase land as a future investment for our children and their children. African American landownership has rapidly declined within the last 100 years and continues to decrease. We can not account that these wrongs will ever be corrected and must make a conscious effort as a community to combat the discrimination we face. Alone we can do so little but together we can do so much.
Written by: Stephen Husband, Jacksonville Metro Local Coordinator
You can contact Stephen at [email protected].