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AFT Praises Senators Booker, Warren, Gillibrand for Black Farmer Justice Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – American Farmland Trust applauds Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand for the introduction of the Justice for Black Farmers Act. From 1910 to 2017, the number of Black farmers in our nation dropped 95% as the amount of Black-owned farmland similarly plummeted. While there are many reasons for this decline, the causes of these staggering losses include injustices such as the forced sale of heirs’ property land and discrimination in applying for loans and receiving other services.

The Justice for Black Farmers Act spotlights many of these injustices, proposing to provide access to land, financing, and legal support for a new generation of Black farmers, while reforming USDA’s civil rights process. The legislation is praiseworthy for beginning a necessary conversation around the policy tools and changes needed to support Black farmers, and for taking a holistic approach that includes training farmers in regenerative practices and additional support for conservation and farm viability. Given the extensive losses in agricultural land found in our Farms Under Threat research, we are especially appreciative of the inclusion of farmland protection as part of the legislation.

AFT’s work on land access and retention has deepened our awareness of many of these challenges, and we are eager to find ways to address them through our programming and policies. Our response has included advocating for incentives for the transfer of land to historically underserved farmers and supporting the Relending Program to Resolve Ownership and Succession on Farmland created within the 2018 Farm Bill to address heirs’ property issues.

However, we recognize that we must do more to eliminate racial inequities in agriculture and land ownership. In doing so, we look forward to learning from, supporting, and highlighting the efforts of organizations such as the Black Family Land Trust, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, and so many others who have been at the forefront of addressing discrimination and empowering Black farmers.

About the Author
Tim Fink

Policy Director

tfink@farmland.org

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