Arkansas Soul

Present-Day Black Farming and discriminatory practices against Black farmers

Scott and Associates report on (May 2, 2023) that for “nearly three decades, Black farmer Lucious Abrams says he has gotten letters from the United States Department of Agriculture promising to wipe out his debt but for him and other Black farmers in the country, receiving relief from the federal government has been a difficult process.” Mr. Abrams has over 600 acres of farmland and he used to grow row crops such as soybeans, corn, cotton. Now he said that they are unable to farm. This is the devastation that is happening to most Black farmers.”

The early part of May has typically been planting season when he would  start tending to crops, but on this farm, nothing is operational. Scott and Associates report (May 2, 2023) that “Abrams was one of six plaintiffs in the landmark Pigford v. Glickman, a class action lawsuit between the U.S. department of agriculture and Black farmers. The suit claimed that the agency had discriminated against Black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1997. It resulted in a $1.2 billion settlement in 1999, but confusion around paperwork and deadlines led to thousands of claims being denied. The disparities in access to federal aid persist for minority farmers. In 2022, just over a third of all farmers who identified as Black and applied for direct loans were approved, according to an ABC news analysis of USDA data.”

Notable Present-Day Black Farmers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Virginia

However, through it all, there have been Black farmers and Black farmers that grow and sell watermelons that have persevered through racism. One of the most prominent Black Produce Farmers in the United States is reported as the largest Black farmer growing watermelon in the United States, Mr. Abraham Carpenter, in Arkansas, with over 1500 acres of produce. 300 hundred of the acres dedicated to watermelon.  Another successful Black Farmer is Mr. Charles Guidry, a successful Sugar Cane Farmer with over 4,000 acres. Mr. Phil Haynie, a 5th generation Black farmer, has two farms in Arkansas and row crops in Virginia with thousands of acres. Phil Haynie graduated from Virginia Tech as an Ag Econ major. Mr. Cory Boise, a fellow AgEcon classmate and alumnus of Phil Haynie, introduced me to Phil. 

The Narrative Matters!

References

Jones, L. (July 13, 2023). Watermelon: The $500 Billion Dollar Wonder Fruit Loved Around the World. Watermelon: The $500 Billion Dollar Wonder Fruit Loved Around the World – The Narrative Matters

Senior Editor, Digital Manager, Blogger, has been nominated for awards several times as Publisher and Author over the years. Has been with company for almost three years and is a current native St. Louisan.


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