The socially disadvantaged farmer is in a perpetual struggle to maintain farmland in the United States of America. Land possession among this social group has declined at a high rate well into the 21st century. Government programs and banking industry components have played a crucial role for the disadvantaged farmers who are losing their farmland due to illicit business practices, ignorance, and greed. The small American farmer has endured discrimination, poverty, pest infestation, industrialization, and indelible hardships that have persisted for many generations. Their survival depends on the virtues in which our country fought and stands for.
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers are literally on verge of extinction due to the obstructed diversification, inaccessibility to government aid, and over production of staple crops. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation According to Hurley’s article as it is stated in 1910 at the peak of land acquisition, African American farmers owned 15 million acres of land; by the year two thousand and two just one million, five hundred thousand acres of land was owned by only sixteen thousand, five hundred and sixty African American farmers. The drop in numbers is existential, but not unexpected taking into consideration the obstacles facing all small farmers, not to mention African American farmers. As t he original farmers passed on, leaving no estate plan behind, the land was split amongst relatives. The type of land which is owned by more than two people is called the heir land. Heir Land is a major cause of land loss: ownership becomes more divided and individual interest in the land greatly decreases.
The past policies were created by the Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service as a federally segregated program for black and white farmers in Alabama. To ease the plight of black farmers, the different agencies under the USDA took steps in conformity with the Civil Rights Acts of the year 1964. In 1982, the United States Commission on Civil rights identified discrimination by USDA as one of the reasons for the loss of land and by the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven1997 the USDA’s civil rights action team outlined series of recommendations to eradicate discrimination in USDA (Daniel, 2007).
The previous research revealed that the type of farm, production choice, characteristic difference, and business arrangement along with government policy are major factors that are detrimental in farm culture success. SDA farmers were losing their land at a high rate through foreclosures, industrialization, conservation programs, and the inability to access government and discriminatory practices. Not only are landed properties traded in the market place, financial institutions are honoring them as collaterals. Yet, as society approaches the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century, the problematic state of socially disadvantaged farmers in the farming community is that they continues to experience landlessness in a land of opportunity and freedom with serious implications for present and future generations to come (Merem, 2006)
Nature of Study
According to Nelson, the landless among Socially Disadvantaged Farmers do not operate in a vacuum at all. These issues are partly brought by forces which are located within the existing federal programs, policy framework, financial institutions as well as a host of other factors. The current institutional set up that oversees agriculture and rural affairs, favor big corporate farms over small family farms which are usually are associated with poor farmers. As a result, the existing policies have not done enough to address the plights of SDA farmers. This fosters a scenario where issues that affect the ordinary farmer like land matters are relegated to the background (Nelson, W. 2007)
Chapter 2 Outline
Who is the Socially Disadvantaged Farmer
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers are a group of underprivileged farmers that have not experienced the success of farming as their successful counterparts. SDA farmers have experienced discrimination and some have been the victims of their own ignorance. Many are choosing to give up a legacy of farming due to difficulty in maneuvering farm economics and their risk management in sustaining farm viability. Statistics show that many of the programs that have been created to assist the SDA farmer have often helped small farmers but not the SDA. The SDA farmer is unique in that they have special needs and requirements due to their past experiences in the farming community culture. It may be argued members of a disadvantaged group would differ from those of a non disadvantaged group with regards to justice perception, because the former would experience a greater relevant deprivation, and would be more sensitive to need of equality as criteria for distributive justice (Crosby, 1976)
African American Farmers
According to Save the Black Farmers Project (2010) only 1 in 100 farms are Black owned farms. The black farmer’s average age is estimated to be at 63 years. In the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty, fourteen percent of the entire Agriculture producers in America were Blacks. By the year two thousand and ten, it is only one percent of Agriculture producers in America who are blacks. All these figures account for the Land Loss among the Blacks for over ten million acres of counting and production. Black farmers experienced a disproportionate effect from these influences since their social and economic position in the South prevented many from acquiring sufficient land to take advantage of cost-saving innovations in agricultural production. Blacks also often had limited access to information that would have enabled them to protect their land from tax, credit, inheritance, and other laws affecting landholding. Black farm owners frequently left land to heirs without a will, resulting in division of a farm’s ownership among a large number of children and their heirs. Such fragmented ownership could end in the loss of the farm. (USRS/UDSA, 1998)
American Indian/Alaskan Native Farmers
Indian land is frequently held in trust by the Department of the Indian Affairs Bureau (BIA) or in other words the governing tribal body and then leased to operators. The Indian land that is held in trust is developed in the same manner as the land that is held in irrevocable trust of. Often BIA trusts are referred to as allotments, identified by an allotment number for instance BIA Allotment Number triple zero six, is the name of the trust and as a result the named insured. A separate policy is needed for every allotment but with different owners. In relation with certain USDA farm plan benefits for American Indians and also Alaska Natives who possess parcels of allotments are established by the same trust. If the agreement trust provides that stake holders of the leased land buy crop insurance, power of attorney shall be executed by the BIA granting the operator the authority to purchase crop insurance on behalf of the trust. If the BIA trust doesn’t have the Identification Number of the Employer, (EIN), the nine-digit number can be implemented or improvised as follows: the initial two digits will identify the State, and the next three will identify the county as well as the last four and the allotment number. An agreement between American Indian and Alaskan Native has to be organized for Alaska Native or American Indian lessor by the insurance delegate, who is signed by the lessee, and therefore attached to the lessee’s application. This agreement can be implemented in connection with the existing contract or an application and it must therefore be filed at the service office only when the acreage report is filed.
Hispanic American Farmers
Farmers of color have been on the land since before the founding of this nation, and despite severe economic and social hardships they still continue surviving. The two thousand and two Censuses revealed that of Hispanic farmers continued to growing, and at the same time mirroring general increase in the number of Hispanic inhabitants in the US. 2007 Farm Bill could play a role in deciding if those new-entry farmers and other producers of color will comprise future opportunities of earning a living in Agriculture.
The Reserve Program Conservation (CRP) function is to minimize soil erosion, improve water quality and air, wildlife habitat enhancement, preservation of productive capacity of the Nation’s farmland, and sustain farm income by taking land out of construction for ten to fifteen years and transforming it into conservational functions. Landlords and farm operators have willingly enrolled over thirty five million acres of extremely erodible and environmentally responsive farmland in programs. In return for planting then qualifying land to, trees, grasses and vegetative cover which is protective, enrollees obtain an annual rental pay, which are reimbursed for approximately half the cost of launching an approved ground cover, and can be eligible for other inducement and maintenance payments. The program provides stable sources of income generation to the stakeholders and produces wide ranges of environmental benefits. But by modest farmland, it reduces farm inputs local requirements for, marketing services, as well as labor. In limiting local economic impact of withdrawing land from production, no more than twenty five percent counties cropland may normally be enrolled in CRP even without official approval to surpass this cap. Nevertheless, the program is obviously blamed for the loss of Jobs that are related to farms and depopulation of the nearby communities which provides retail and agricultural services. (Sullivan et. al, 2006)
Nature and Man-made Obstructions
Farmland Value Increase
In 1991 and 2007, the number of farms rose just over 2 million causing a change in size distribution. Noncommercial farms with gross cash farm income below $10,000 had increased from two-fifths to more than half of all farms, partly because of USDA’s efforts to tally all of the smallest land in surveys and the Agriculture Census. Despite the group’s that are noncommercial increasing farms shares, its production value share remained about one percent from 1991 to 2007. At the upper end, large category Farms were categorized with instant cash generated farm income of $500,000 to $999,999 and very big farms also multiplied their combined farm share from three percent in the year 1991 to five percent in the year 2007. Two farm size categories doubled but still accounted for 105,000 only for the two million entire farms in the year 2007. Both of the size classes also multiplied the share of production, with very big farms’ share of all United States production growing from over a fourth to nearly half.
Black farmers are getting finished at three times as compared to the rate of White farmers. There are several reasons why the members of Black farmers are declining so rapidly. But, the one which has been documented from time is the environment that is discriminatory currently in the Agriculture Department, the same agency customized to accommodate and assist special needs of farmers. The troubles of the Black farmer in America are troubles which have been triggered by discrimination. The moment lands are lost, it is very difficult to recover them. And, land has been lost by Black farmers. Land has been lost, income has been lost, livelihoods have been lost, and families have been lost.
According to Laura Rusu article, Farmers of Color Shut out from Farm Bill Programs Under the current system, African-American, American, Hispanic, Indian and Asian farmers receive fewer, or and sometimes they do not, reimbursements from US farmland programs as compared to their counterparts, according to the new research report by the Tuskegee University and the University of Minnesota therefore released by the Oxfam today. Legacies of discrimination that resulted in a ninety seven percent decline on African-American farm possession between the years 1920 to 2002, still persists currently. Color Producers are effectively lock out from the US land programs because of program designs which favor the large-scale, commodity farmers as well as large farm-holdings, just at the same time they continue to receiving unequal treatment at the confined level when seeking to access the farm services and programs. Sincerely speaking the, small farmers receive only a small percentage of entire commodity payments, this is according to the Oxfam report.
Farm Service Agency
The Farm Service Agency makes and guarantees loans to socially disadvantaged applicants to buy and operate family-size firms and ranches. Funds that are specifically for such loans are reserved annually. FSA has defined a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher individuals in a group whose members have been subjected to racial, gender or ethnic, prejudice because of their identities as members of the groups in question disregarding their own qualities. The purposes of this program are to target direct and guaranteed farm ownership and farm operating loan assistance to socially disadvantaged persons. Discover then remove obstacles which prevent full participation of the said people in FSA’s land loan programs; and then provide pieces of advice to successful applicants in order to help them develop good farm management practices, analyze problems, and sketch the best utilization of available resources necessary for success in farming or rather, or ranching. The loans applied for can be used for Farm ownership loan funds for socially disadvantaged persons may be used to buy or enlarge a ranch or farm, purchase easements and rights of way required in the operation of farm. Erect or improve structures such as a barn or dwelling, promote water and soil conservation and development, and also pay closing costs. Farm operating loan funds can be used to buy livestock, farm, poultry and home equipments, seed, feed, fuel, chemicals, fertilizer, hay and other crops insurance, clothing, food, hired labor and medical care. Funds also can be used in installing or improving the water systems for domestic use like, irrigation or livestock, as well as other improvements. Additionally, being members of socially disadvantaged groups, participants in this program have to meet all the necessary requirements for the FSA’s regular land loan program aid.
Risk Management Agency (RMA)
The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety six the (1996) Act created the Risk Management Agency (RMA). The one thousand nine hundred and ninety six acts revised a need that producers attain at least the calamitous level of crop insurance to be entitled for most USDA farm programs, to let producers to continue their eligibility for such farm programs as much as they waived their rights to other emergency horticultural loss assistance.
RMA improves economical stability in agriculture by giving producers sound systems of horticulture insurance. The federal crops insurance cover losses because of unavoidable causes like drought, excessive moisture, wind, hail, frost, and insects disease. Today 62 main crops are insurable. The crop insurances are available completely from the crop insurance agents. Insurance protection has to be purchased prior to the sales closing dates which vary from crops and also regions. Additionally, administering crop insurance programs for Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, RMA is accountable for the coordinating an educational outreach program to facilitate producers and help them manage the financial dangers that are inherent in producing and marketing agricultural products. This cooperative effort involves the resources of Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), such Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and numerous private sector organizations. RMA also partake with some other USDA agents in outreach programs with Intertribal Agricultural Council in increasing awareness of the USDA services that are available to Alaska Natives and American Indians (Farm bill, 1990)
The government of United States of America should do all that it can to ensure that a black farmer is well protected. Anti discrimination policies must be improvised as well as strictly adhered to ensure that all sorts of unfair discrimination are eliminated completely from the society and it will enable everyone to work peacefully and without any fear. All the land farms belonging to the black farmers must be protected to facilitate their timely and also long term production. This will not only benefit the farmer but also the country as a whole.
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