Foundation’s lawsuit claims USDA discriminates against black farmers

Updated: Jun. 27, 2019 at 12:25 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - One organization said that if the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to have its way, there will be no more black farmers.

The Cowtown Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the USDA for allegations of denying loans for black farmers.

The challenges are endless when it comes to farming, but for one group, they said a national agency is making it worse.

“I can promise you, it’s very serious when it comes to a black man farming,” said Farmer Carl Parker.

Carl Parker (Source: WALB)
Carl Parker (Source: WALB)

Parker is a Worth County farmer who said his biggest challenge is getting loans from the USDA.

“It was almost like pulling tooth and nail when you go in to try and acquire a loan,” said Parker.

Loans are how many farmers get by.

The Cowtown Foundation said it’s different when it comes to black farmers.

“The agency wants corporate farms to take over the food chain in the United States,” said Corey Lea, the executive director of Cowtown Foundation.

Corey Lea (Source: WALB)
Corey Lea (Source: WALB)

Lea said the numbers are stacked against them.

“Starting back in 1929, black farmers accounted for close to 16 million acres. We are down to 2 million acres now,” Lea said. “Since the year 2000, there are 22,000 pending discrimination complaints from black farmers that have not been addressed.”

Which is why Lea’s organization filed a lawsuit, alleging discrimination against farmers who had difficulty gaining credit.

Parker was one of them, and faced foreclosure twice.

“It was because of non-payment and them not following the rules of the concept degree,” said Parker. “You can’t even go in and get a loan at all or really get them to seriously talk to you about a loan.”

Parker said most black farmers are forced to create their own markets.

“We are very limited in number and if the USDA had their way about it, we would be non existent,” Parker said.

Lea said their allegations also form around the USDA favoring major corporations as well as denying support not only for black farmers, but all small farmers.

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