Losing ground: Black Farmer alleges USDA discrimination

Editor’s Note:  The tragedy of this story is that the USDA likely lacked the legal instruments to legally foreclose.  The Wise family claims the government set them up to fail.  No doubt they are right.



Picture an American farmer. Chances are, the farmer you’re imagining is white – more than 9 out of 10 American farmers today are. But historically, African Americans played a huge role in agriculture. The nation’s economy was built largely on black farm labor: in bondage for hundreds of years, followed by a century of sharecropping and tenant farming.

In the early 1900s, African American families owned one-seventh of the nation’s farmland, 15 million acres. A hundred years later, black farmers own only a quarter of the land they once held and now make up less than 1 percent of American farm families.

The federal government has admitted it was part of the problem. In 1997, a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture said discrimination by the agency was a factor in the decline of black farms. A landmark class-action lawsuit on behalf of black farmers, Pigford v. Glickman, was settled in 1999, and the federal government paid out more than $2 billion as a result. But advocates for black farmers say problems persist.

On this episode of Reveal, reporter John Biewen of “Scene on Radio” tells the story of one black farm couple who say the USDA treated them unfairly because of their race.


4 Responses

  1. Mr. Rowe:

    Everywhere you turn Blacks are mistreated, stolen from, killed and denied what should they should lawfully be entitled to. When GOD settles the score it will not be pretty!



  2. I have worked with the USDA on many grant application for agriculture development. I can say that black farmers are not the only people they discriminate against. They are horrible to work with. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing! Not to mention that they are in the practice of not giving local agricultural charities grants. They are mainly looking at large universities alone. The universities in turn are taking at minimum, 60% of the grant funding for their own right at the funding table. Local charities that are trying to make a difference and have patents for AG development that the USDA has no clue about and that can actually make a difference are being ignored. It is all about corruption in the Government…BLACK OR WHITE.

  3. Neil, who’s history… American history is just over 200 years old. Recent studies have shown that folks have been farming for at least 23,000 years. So, although negro farmers may have owned 1/7th of the American Farms, they comprised less than .5% of all global farms. Although I worked for many years in finance and have witness redlining firsthand…. the Pigford Settlement was a money grab…

    I also do not believe that American taxpayers should make retribution to the American indian or African Slaves. Although horrible, those acts were carried out by a distinct group of folks, and making the folks today pay for the sins of others would start litigation across the globe that would have no end.

  4. The Pigford settlement was hijacked by the Obama DOJ and more than 90% of the harmed black farmers who all received $62,500 settlements were inner city blacks in Chicago , NYC and Philly … anyone could make a claim, as long as it fit the narrative required you got paid … a year after Obama expanded the political payout to women and hispanic “farmers” ,, same thing .. it was just a payoff to his supporters…

    Anyone wonder why nobody respects the courts?

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