A new coalition that addresses the decadeslong issue of improving the livelihoods of Black farmers has been announced by the National Black Growers Council in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The coalition — LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy, and Production Systems) — will also place special emphasis on the preservation of heirs’ property in rural communities across the country, according to a PRNewswire press release issued Tuesday.
“Property ownership is a driver of economic growth for individuals and families. However, too often the benefits of ownership for those who lack clear title cannot be truly realized,” Marc Howze, group president of Lifecycle Solutions and chief administrative officer for John Deere, said in a statement.
Dewayne Goldmon, executive director of the National Black Growers Council, added that while land is a farmer’s most valuable and productive asset, 60% of Black farmers operate on property that has been passed through their families for generations, but for which they lack secure titles.
“Without secure title, Black farmers cannot leverage the full value of their land,” Goldmon said. “We are pleased to expand our relationship with John Deere, one of our sustaining members on this partnership and other areas of focus for our constituents and communities.”
Black communities in the South are not the only groups particularly affected, as similar situations also exist among White communities in Appalachia, Native Americans living on tribal lands, Hispanic communities in Texas and in parts of southwestern United States. Fortunately, each of these constituencies will benefit from LEAP efforts, according to the press release.
“Farmers need land to plant and harvest, they need access to tools, technologies, and services that will help their operations grow and thrive,” said John May, Deere’s chair and CEO. “These investments provide the means to fulfill these requirements and, in many cases, to carry on vital legacies.”