The National Black Growers Council, John Deere, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund have announced a coalition focused on improving the livelihoods of Black farmers.
According to a release from the group, it will particularly focus on the preservation of heirs’ property in rural communities throughout the United States.
“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,” said Marc Howze, Group President, Lifecycle Solutions and Chief Administrative Officer for John Deere.
The coalition, called LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy, and Production Systems), will collectively address priority legislation, expand educational and advocacy opportunities to ensure Black farmers have access to the tools and technology needed to successfully navigate advanced production systems.
“Land is a farmer’s most valuable and productive asset, yet 60 percent of Black farmers operate on property that has been passed through their families for generations but for which they do not have secure title. Without secure title, Black farmers cannot leverage the full value of their land,” said Dr. Dewayne Goldmon, Executive Director of the National Black Growers Council. “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.”
The lack of a secure title has particularly affected Black farmers in the South, but there have been similar situations for Native Americans living on tribal lands and Hispanic communities in Texas and in parts of the southwestern United States and white communities in Appalachia. All of these groups will benefit from this work.
“We are delighted to expand on our existing relationship with John Deere, the NBGC, and others to tackle an issue that is critical to our communities,” said Harry Williams, President CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “This provides an opportunity to leverage our deep roots, research, and advocacy on behalf of our land grant institutions, including law schools, to lend a voice toward addressing this systemic issue.”
“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 C. May, Deere’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “These investments provide the means to fulfill these requirements and, in many cases, to carry on vital legacies.”