A new crop of Black urban farmers in Houston are continuing traditions and pioneering innovative solutions to address food insecurity, community sustainability, and nutritional wellness.
By Lenard Smith, Jr.
April 9, 2021
Texas is home to more Black farmers than any state. The USDA’s Census of Agriculture estimated in 2017 that of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States, roughly 48,000 are Black, and nearly a quarter of them are located in the Lone Star State.
The number of Black folks sinking their hands into Texas soil, however, used to be much larger. The early 1900s witnessed the terrors of Jim Crow, which ran Black families in Texas off of their own land. The societal and business practices of the 1950s didn’t allow Black farmers access to the fields and credit necessary to keep their farms afloat, and by the 1980s, an estimated 170 farms a week were being forced into foreclosure, most of them Black-owned.
In recent years, Black farmers were also overlooked and undercompensated by the stimulus package put forth by President Trump. In a Washington Post interview, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack stated, “We saw 99 percent of the money going to white farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged farmers, and if you break that down to how much went to Black farmers, it’s 0.1 percent. Look at it another way: The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the COVID-19 payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent.”
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