Restoring Black farmland: The push to help Black farmers flourish

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PEMBROKE TOWNSHIP, Ill. — While the national dialogue continues on racism and representation, there is a renewed push to help Black farmers flourish.

There are more than 70,000 farms in Illinois, but USDA DATA shows less than 200 principal operators are Black.

“We can’t have equity without the land,” Fred Carter, co-founder and executive director of the Black Oaks Center, said

In 2009, Carter and his wife Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter left their Beverly bungalow in Chicago and moved their family to Pembroke Township to carve out a low-carbon existence on 40 acres of land.

“Black farming is in what I call the intensive care unit,” Wright-Carter, co-founder and president of Black Oaks Center, said. “It’s in the process of being resuscitated.”

Five billion dollars in debt relief and support for socially disadvantaged farmers was included in President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 economic relief package.

In Illinois, a study on farm ownership disparities will be completed by the end of the year. Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton’s team will be looking at those results as they work on a two-year strategic plan to address equity in agriculture.

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