By CultureBanx Team
- Soul Fire Farm’s virtual farming lessons is inspiring a new generation of Black Farmers
- There are 45,000 African American farmers who remain in need of financial relief from the impact of the pandemic
Farm to Table is getting a bit of culture with a new generation of young Black farmers getting into the business. There were only 45,500 Black farmers, roughly 1.3% of all U.S. farmers in 2017, according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture. This number is rising, while springing up a new crop of Black farmers who are interested in Soul Fire Farm’s virtual farming lessons to make sure underserved communities aren’t left behind in the food line.
Why This Matters: These new Black farmers are motivated by “a cultural reclamation,” according to Leah Penniman, farm manager at Soul Fire. About 60% of African American farmers operate on land that has been passed down through the generations. Black owned farms help provide food to Black communities, which often suffer disproportionately from food insecurity. A recent study from Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research found that during the pandemic, food insecurity for U.S. households with children has hit Black and Hispanic respondents particularly hard.
There are 45,000 African American farmers who remain in need of financial relief from the impact of the pandemic, as markets they sold to have closed. Historically, Black farmers have lost millions in acres and billions in wealth, in part due to being shut out of loans and assistance. Unfortunately, Black farm ownership has significantly decreased, with their acreage being reduced from 16 million to 2 million, and most of that land loss has occurred during the past 70 years. This new generation of Black farmers is more important than ever before.
Situational Awareness: The USDA isn’t doing much to ensure African American farmers who have inherited their land but don’t have clear titles are able to access federal assistance. Without a clear title to the land, black farmers “have historically been shut out of nearly every USDA program, including disaster assistance,” according to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. A provision in the 2018 Farm Bill was designed to help address this problem, but it has not yet been implemented. So this Thanksgiving be sure to support Black farmers.
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