From Frugivore — American farmers represent less than 3% of the population, and less than 2% of American farmers are black. There are many factors that contribute to the decline of black farming careers, including the general decrease in farming jobs, the black community’s historical relationship with raising crops, and poverty that forces the sale of farmland. Post the civil war, black farm ownership peaked at 15 million acres of land by 1920. During this period, there were 926,000 black farmers spanning various regions in the country, and fewer than 10,000 were in the south. Unfortunately, fewer than 20,000, or 1% of all farmers, were black by 1997, and black farmland ownership had decreased to two million acres.

What happened? Well, the answer is complicated. For one, the USDA decreased black farmers’ loans, forcing them to miss planting opportunities, and denied them equipment grants along with other subsidies that were readily available to white farmers. While white farmers were able to grow their farms and business, black farmers were suffering from discrimination. As the rule of farming often reflects more land equaling larger profits, these unfair lending practices limited the survival of black farmers, forcing most to sell their land and choose another profession.

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  • Thank you for this. My friend blogged about needing to support local food artisans (of color). If you are fortunate to have local farmers markets near where you live, it is important to patronize them. They are an integral part of our community:

  • Yana

    Hispanics have taken many of the farming jobs that use to go to Black men.

  • whilome

    My daddy still runs a combine in Arkansas, but I’ve seen the younger generations not picking up the mantle that the older ones put down.

    We need to realize how much we’re giving up when we leave our food and land to somebody else. Folks wanna go “down home” once a year and let their kids play in some red dirt for a minute. What happens when there ceases to be a “down home” to go to?