“Not a new pattern”: Black farmers’ perspectives on barriers to participating in federal farm programs
Keywords:Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Black Farmers, Federal Farm Programs, USDA, Race, Agriculture, Black Agrarianism, Rural Development
Although there are more opportunities and revamped avenues for socially disadvantaged farmers to participate in federal agricultural program since Pigford v. Glickman, the first Black farmer class action lawsuit against USDA and subsequent billion dollar settlement, there is not a lot of scholarly research on Black farmers’ perspectives and experiences in accessing and using these programs today. Using data from nine focus groups in Mississippi with 89 Black farmers, we find that Black farmers and ranchers identify several barriers to program participation, namely communication about programs and problems with the application and approval process, including a lack of standardization and transparency. Interwoven throughout the discussions of barriers were conversations about racial and gender discrimination, with producers soundly in agreement that the former persists, and the latter is an issue. This research informs our understandings of Black farmers’ experiences of how racial hierarchies and networks continue to shape their ability to access and participate in federal farm programs; policy recommendations are provided.
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