The 2018 farm bill included a provision to make it easier for farmers operating on so-called heirs property — land that passed from one generation of a family to another without a clear title — to obtain a USDA farm number and thus gain access to a multitude of government programs. The Senate is scheduled to vote this afternoon on an amendment by Alabama Sen. Doug Jones to provide $5 million for a re-lending program that would be a step toward resolving ownership issues.
Since the end of Reconstruction, following the Civil War, many black farmers have felt the twin pressures of hardship and neglect, reinforced by systematic discrimination from government agencies and financial institutions. The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning policy institute, issued a recent report advocating for policy changes to correct those inequities, many of which it says remain today. (No paywall)
In Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, Monica M. White, assistant professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, traces the history of black land-based social movements from the time of slavery to today’s urban gardens in Rust Belt cities. (No paywall)
Leah Penniman is co-director and program manager of the 72-acre Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, which is dedicated to training a new generation of black, brown, and indigenous farmers while working to dismantle racism and injustice in the food system. Her new book, “Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,” is a first-of-its-kind guide for farmers of color. (No paywall)