Leesburg farmer talks challenges faced by Black farmers

Farmer talks challenges faced by black farmers

LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) -A bill announced this month in Washington is aimed at addressing discrimination against Black farmers.

Sen. Cory Booker sponsored the bill, originally introduced in November. The Justice for Black Farmers Act would address some of those challenges by making reforms in the Deptartment of Agriculture.

Shon and Chiquita Holsey own Holsey Farms.
Shon and Chiquita Holsey own Holsey Farms. (Source: WALB)
Shon and Chiquita Holsey
Shon and Chiquita Holsey (Source: WALB)

Holsey Farms owner Shon Holsey said Black farmers face unique challenges.

“The most struggle that we’ve had is finance,” he said.

Reports say Black farmers historically have not had equal access to federal funding. The legislation aims to fix that by creating a land grant program.

Holsey Farms is a family black farmer business.
Holsey Farms is a family black farmer business. (Source: WALB)

“To buy the equipment, to add irrigation systems, things that the bigger farmers are doing,” he said.

Holsey also said he has dreams of opening a store and doing agriculture tours.

Estimates by the USDA say Black farmers make up less than two percent of all farmers in the nation.

Holsey said it doesn’t shock him. “It’s almost a thing of the past... there are very few black farms that are over 100 years old. And back in the day, that’s how they fed their families,” he said.

Holsey Farms supplied produce for the Southside Pop Up Farmers Market.
Holsey Farms supplied produce for the Southside Pop Up Farmers Market. (Source: WALB)

Reports say systemic issues and violence toward Black farmers during Jim Crow contributed to the decline. Holsey’s wife Chiquita Holsey says she’s blessed they can pass their land to their four children.

“We would like to leave a legacy for our girls so when they get older, they can pass it down to their kids. So having land as a Black owner, that is something that is very important to us,” she said. “To be able to keep it and have it go down generation to generation.”

“This is what we do, this is our full-time job. I walk out of my house and go to work, and I love it,” Shon said.

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