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Blacks Fight to Save Farms

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Blacks strive to save the lands they have had for decades
TILLERY — A national conference on black land loss hasfocused African-American farmers and landowners on ways they can continueto own and work their land, despite predictions their enterprises willbecome extinct.

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

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

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

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

The Tillery meeting also begat state chapters in the Carolinas andGeorgia.

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