'Make Farmers Black Again': Fighting Discrimination To Own Farmland There is a growing movement of young farmers led by people of color in the Northeast but barriers to accessing funding and land remain. The family behind Triple J Farm in Windsor, N.Y., knows this.
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'Make Farmers Black Again': African Americans Fight Discrimination To Own Farmland

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'Make Farmers Black Again': African Americans Fight Discrimination To Own Farmland

'Make Farmers Black Again': African Americans Fight Discrimination To Own Farmland

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now let's meet the family behind Triple J Farm in upstate New York. They farm with a mantra - Making Farmers Black Again. Here's Jillian Forstadt from member station WSKG.

JILLIAN FORSTADT, BYLINE: Eighty-five-year-old James Minton owns a chicken farm. It's small, just 20 acres and nearly 300 chickens. There's a patch of maple trees where Minton makes syrup each winter and a pond stocked full of fish. That's where his youngest great-granddaughters like to play. In all, Minton has 28 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He says he bought this land for them.

JAMES MINTON: Well, it'll be someplace for them to come at any time. If something bad happens to them in the city and they need someplace to stay, whether I'm alive or dead, this place will still be here.

FORSTADT: Most of his family lives in New York City. It's not often they get to be around cows or chickens.

J MINTON: This chicken lay blue eggs. And you know - there we go. (Laughter). There we go.

FORSTADT: Minton bought the land a decade ago when he retired and wanted a place of his own. Now he's growing the farm business with his grandchildren. Last year, his grandson Daryl Minton moved upstate to help manage the farm. Since, they've gone from selling 30 dozen eggs every couple of months to selling close to 200 dozen each week.

DARYL MINTON: We're going to have a contest. We're going to have our customers name all our chickens.

FORSTADT: Minton says, before he started living with his grandfather, he worked for a big grocery chain in New York City. There, he was building wealth for someone else.

D MINTON: At the end of the day, that didn't make any sense. Like, why couldn't me and my family use the things that we know and try to build our own wealth or build the wealth and help my grandfather out?

FORSTADT: Black Americans own 1% of rural land nationwide and make up only 139 of the roughly 58,000 farmers in New York state. Black farmers have historically faced lending discrimination when applying for loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Without access to capital, young farmers won't be able to buy or maintain land.

There is a growing movement of young farmers led by people of color in the Northeast, but few have the same advantages Minton did. He saved up over years of working, had money in stocks and a 401(k) that covered the initial costs of the land.

J MINTON: I didn't have to, you know, go borrow money from this one to pay for the property since (ph) I had to first initial payment for the property.

FORSTADT: The family knows they've had a rare chance, one many of their neighbors won't get. It's one of the reasons they're stamping their egg cartons with #BuyLand and Make Farmers Black Again. Black Americans were promised 40 acres and a mule after emancipation. Daryl Minton says, why not give them 40 acres and a tractor now?

D MINTON: It wouldn't make it right, but it would just definitely even the playing field. You know, give people a hands-up. It's not like you're giving them tools to destroy the country. You're actually giving them tools to help build the country.

FORSTADT: Minton says they'll be successful once they can get to selling a thousand dozen eggs each week. But to him and his grandfather, James Minton, success also looks like having a place the youngest family members can learn to care for the animals and the land.

J MINTON: Just to see all everybody together, it's just - it seems like you accomplished something (ph).

FORSTADT: Passing down the land through generations - that's a task the family is proud to carry on.

For NPR News, I'm Jillian Forstadt in Windsor, N.Y.

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