Local News

Blacks Fight to Save Farms

Posted March 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A national conference on black land loss has focused African-American farmers and landowners on ways they can continue to own and work their land, despite predictions their enterprises will become extinct.

Participants heard from a roster of speakers, heavy with county extension agents, professors, lawyers, civil rights advocates, and college students.

The farmers who attended have a litany of complaints against the federal government, which, they say, grants agricultural loans and other assistance to whites long before the assistance is granted to them. And such delays can have a crippling effect on crops and financial success.

Marcus Tillery, a conference organizer, says it is time for the solutions to come from the local people rather than being imposed from Washington.

A march is planned from the White House to the capitol on April 23.

The Tillery meeting also begat state chapters in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Lawrence Lucas, president of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, toldThe News & Observerthat the Department of Agriculture has a systemic problem in that it denies resources to small farmers, whether they are black, Hispanic, native American, white or women.