Bold & Bright: Sowing the Seeds of Justice—The National Black Farmers Association and Their Fight for Equitable Agriculture

February 6th, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

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To take a stand against injustices and speak up for historically disenfranchised groups takes a bold, bright, and courageous catalyst.

In the fertile fields of American agriculture, a story of struggle and resilience takes root. It’s the story of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), a beacon of hope for Black farmers who have faced centuries of systemic discrimination and dispossession.

The association was founded in 1995 by John W. Boyd, Jr., a fourth-generation farmer from Virginia, in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) then-discriminatory practices. He led a march on the White House and organized Black farmers nationwide to join a class action discrimination suit against the USDA. 

After much work and a successful suit deemed the largest civil rights class action settlement in U.S. history, the NBFA emerged as a powerful voice for the over ten thousand Black farmers who continue to navigate the challenges of land loss, unequal access to resources, and discriminatory lending practices.

Through a beginning of hardships and inequalities, the NBFA’s story is a testament to the unwavering determination of a community fighting for its rightful place in the agricultural landscape. Through advocacy, education, and community building, the NBFA is helping Black farmers advance and thrive.


The NBFA and the Endeavor for Black Agrarian Justice

To understand the NBFA’s mission, it’s critical to acknowledge the historical context that shapes the challenges faced by Black farmers. Following the emancipation of enslaved people, many sought to establish themselves as landowners, acquiring farms through homesteading and purchase. However, these efforts were often met with hostility and violence. Discriminatory policies and theft led to a dramatic decline in Black land ownership.

By the mid-20th century, the number of Black-owned farms had plummeted from over one million to just 40,000. This staggering loss not only represented a personal tragedy for countless families but also severed a vital connection to Black cultural heritage and economic self-sufficiency.


The Rise as a Voice for Change

In the face of this daunting legacy, the NBFA emerged as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change. The organization’s goals focus on three main areas: advocacy, education, and community building. 

The NBFA advocates by lobbying for policies that promote equitable access to land, credit, and technical assistance for Black Farmers. They provide training and resources on sustainable farming practices, financial management, and marketing to further education for members. Community building has been at the root of the NBFA since its founding, and it continues to create a network of support and connection for Black farmers across the country. 

Through these initiatives, the NBFA has made significant progress in recent years. The organization has successfully lobbied for billions of dollars in government funding for Black farmers, helped to pass anti-discrimination legislation, and provided vital training and support to countless individuals.


Building a Just and Equitable Future

The NBFA’s work is far from over. The challenges faced by Black farmers are complex and deeply rooted in systemic inequities. However, the organization’s unwavering commitment to justice and its dedication to empowering Black communities offer a glimpse into a more equitable future for American agriculture.

By supporting and highlighting the NBFA, all can play a role in ensuring that the fields of American agriculture are fertile ground for generations to come. Remember, every seed of justice sown today has the potential to grow into equal opportunities for all.


A Broader Look at the Landscape 

The NBFA is one significant piece of a larger puzzle. Change requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the challenges Black farmers face and the broader issues of food justice and sustainable agriculture. Organizations such as the National Family Farm Coalition are also working alongside the NBFA to create a more equitable and sustainable food system. You can support these organizations by attending events, amplifying their voices, or donating to their causes.

Iyon Baker Headshot
Iyon Baker

Iyon is a curious, creative NC native and Chapel Hill alum who is always eager to embark on new adventures that provide more skills. With a background in advertising, public relations, digital marketing, and fine arts, she uses her skills for copywriting and brand storytelling. Her professional journey has led her to diverse projects that taught her to embrace challenges and adapt to any situation. In her leisure time, Iyon enjoys gardening, knitting, and traveling. 

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