With the cost of farmland up by more than 8% percent in North Carolina, the state’s Black farmers are struggling to purchase additional acreage or jumpstart their farming dreams.
Demi Tucker, owner of Uyoga Farms and a fifth-generation Black farmer, grows mushrooms on her family’s land in Steadman. She said most farmers she knows are leasing and looking to expand, but finding themselves competing with investors and corporations swooping up large tracts.
“If somebody has 23 acres to sell, they’re going to sell it to the person who can buy out 23 acres and that half of an acre or an acre, which is what most people can afford starting off, ” Tucker said.
According to Global AgInvesting, an estimated 26 to 35 billion dollars of farmland nationwide is owned by institutions or corporations.
Tucker pointed out after purchasing land, farmers also face additional costs to clear it, buy heavy machinery, and do soil and water testing. She said all of these obstacles add up for Black and Indigenous farmers who historically have faced discrimination qualifying for federal funding.
“There’s a lot happening right now with the farm bill that’s going to pass this year, a lot of advocacy going around as far as certain demands that we would like met so that more people of color can qualify for loans,” Tucker added.
Over the past century nationwide, an estimated 98% of Black farmers were dispossessed through the denial of loans and credit, and through acts of violence and intimidation, according to Data for Progress.
This story was written by Nadia Ramlagan, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.