Black farmers seek funding from North Carolina legislature
More than 50 Black farmers came to Raleigh Wednesday to lobby lawmakers for more funding in the state budget.
The farmers said in a news conference that they’re routinely left out of grant programs run by the state and federal government.
Demetrius Hunter, of Black Farmers Hub, farms land in Soul City in Warren County.
"A lot of time the organizations that get the funding, it’s coming from white organizations, and then it doesn’t get in our hands," Hunter said. "So, we come to say that we can handle the money; we’re good fiscal agents."
The group is working with the Legislative Black Caucus to get state budget grants for nonprofits that directly help Black farmers grow and distribute their crops. They’re also seeking $100,000 for marketing efforts and additional funding for internships.
The requests announced Wednesday include grants of up to $75,000 to groups like Randolph County-based Glow House Society, which has farm incubator and distribution programs, and Conetoe Family Life Center in Edgecombe County, which has food processing and a "food for medicine" program.
Some of the nonprofits say they need state grants to help qualify for larger grant programs operated by the federal government. "It’s time for us to make change, and the change begins with the policy at the state level and the federal level," Hunter said.
Rep. Ray Jeffers, D-Person, is leading the effort. His family has farmed in Person County for more than 100 years.
“Make no mistake: the Black farmer is the most underserved farmers in our nation and state," Jeffers said. "The land loss and economic loss to the Black farmer has been well documented and detrimental to our survival. We have a chance in this state to show support for these farmers, and many like them, who work the lands of their forefathers, and some who have returned to their land after a mass exodus."