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Re-entering African-American farmers : recent trends and a policy rationale

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Wood, Spencer D.; Gilbert, Jess Carr
Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
African American farmers Mississippi; Land use, Rural Mississippi; African American farmers Civil rights United States; African American farmers Government policy United States; Agriculture and state United States; Farms, Size of Southern States; Discrimination in financial services United States; Agrarian structure United States Southern States
Working paper, no. 12. North America series
Today, there are only about 15,000 black farmers in the United States. Declining by 98 percent since 1920, black farmers have suffered losses attributable to public policy, economic pressures, and racial oppression. All of these factors must be addressed if African-American farmers are to survive. In this paper, we use Census of Agriculture data and a follow-on survey in one Mississippi Delta county to review the current situation of black farmers. We introduce the concept of "re-entering farmers" to suggest that a significant number of black farmers, who are not defined as "farmers" by the Census, still own land and want to farm again. The first section of the paper provides a brief overview of the historical and current trends of black farmers in the United States. The second section discusses Delta County, drawing upon our survey and the Census of Agriculture. The third section discusses the implications of civil rights violations by the former Farmers Home Administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Finally, we conclude with a policy recommendation to slow the drastic decline of African-American farmers.
iv, 19 p.
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