December 1, 2020 , 4:14 am

Discrimination And Changing Attitudes is faced by Black Farmers

It’s a beautiful and crisp autumn day on the Lucas Farm in Montgomery County.

The sounds of cars whizzing by and birds chirping disturb the quiet peacefulness that Charles Lucas has grown accustomed to, living alone in Jackson Springs.

Lucas is 70 years old. He’s a Vietnam veteran and a farmer who spends most of his days talking to family and friends on the phone, tending to his land or selling his produce at nearby farmers’ markets.

He says he’s the only Black farmer in Montgomery County, just south of Greensboro.

It is a dying breed,” Lucas said. “No question about it.”

Lucas comes from a family of farmers. His father was a farmer and he and his 12 siblings grew up on the farm.

Lucas was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1969. He was there for a little over a year, and when he returned to High Point, he worked in a truck factory and then meat packing.

One day after church, he took a look at some land that was up for sale in Jackson Springs.

He put a $5,000 down payment. The owners – who lived in Virginia – didn’t know Lucas was Black.

“The day we came down for the closing my me and my wife was in the lawyer office in Troy,” he said. “When a man and his wife came in and saw that we’re Black, man, that woman lit out on us. She used the n-word.”

The owners were locked into the deal and couldn’t get out of the contract, so Lucas bought the 25 acres of land that would become his farm.

He built his house and raised four children there. Now a widower, he’s at a crossroads on what to do with it.

“I just don’t know what to do with this land,” he said. “I don’t plan on ever getting married again and I don’t plan on just giving it to my children. They act like they don’t want it. I don’t have not one that comes here and wants to do this. And that’s really upsets me.”

The agriculture industry has been in a slow, steady decline for decades. Black-owned farms are no exception. Only about 2% of all farms nationwide are owned by Black people, due to persistent and systemic racist policies that were in place at the U.S. Department of Agriculture until the late 1990s.

“Black people sort of began to drift away from farming, because it was so punitive and racist, and all those kinds of things,” said Deborah Barnes, adjunct associate professor of English and African American Studies at North Carolina A&T State University. “You just couldn’t get ahead doing it.”

Now, Barnes says, younger generations of Black people have even less interest in agriculture as a career.

“Those people who came of age in the 80s and 90s, they’re going to college and nobody’s going back to the farm,” she said. “Nobody wants to do hard work. Everybody wants a white collar job.”

Persistent discrimination and harassment was written into policies, but it was also personal for Lucas.

“I started painting the house and I started trying to plant corn and then this guy turned his cows loose on my land,” he said. “Cows ate up my stuff. It was a white neighbor and he did it on purpose; but I took him to court. That’s when I first started fighting back against this stuff.”

Lucas tells other stories about harassment, some including law enforcement. He said he tried applying for U.S. Department of Agriculture loans for farming equipment, but he was always denied.

These racially discriminatory loan policies were the backbone of the Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit in the late 1990s. Four hundred Black farmers sued the USDA and won. Lucas was not one of them; he didn’t file his paperwork in time and he never saw any payouts.

It was around that time that Lucas grew frustrated with farming and sold all of his equipment. His land went fallow and he settled into being a truck driver.

Then in 2008 he went to a workshop about sustainable crops. It was through that workshop that Lucas’s love for farming returned. He started growing and selling produce at NC A&T’s farmers’ market.

Now, despite the grim statistics and difficult work, Lucas still encourages people to try their hand at farming.

“You can have one-acre of land and could be a farmer,” he said. “You got to get a tracking number and a farm number and that’s all you need and be willing to put the time in.”

Tags
A&T State University
agriculture industry
farming
farming equipment
loan policies

More from Prashant Tambe

December 24, 2020 more_vert

Data Center Rack Server Market Expected to Reach T…

close Data Center Rack Server Market Expected to Reach Tremendous Growth by 2027
December 16, 2020 more_vert

Gambling futures Food and Farm

close Gambling futures Food and Farm
December 9, 2020 more_vert

Holidays are on the Way

close Holidays are on the Way
December 31, 2020 more_vert

Food Insecurity addressed during the Pandemic

close Food Insecurity addressed during the Pandemic
October 21, 2020 more_vert

“Farm to Food” program aims to feed 100,000 O…

close “Farm to Food” program aims to feed 100,000 O’ahu residents in City
January 29, 2021 more_vert

Surge Protection Devices Market 2021 With New Prin…

close Surge Protection Devices Market 2021 With New Principle And Updated Strategies 2027
January 21, 2021 more_vert

Black Food Writer Dies because of Virus

close Black Food Writer Dies because of Virus
November 25, 2020 more_vert

0.7% Growth is observed in Agriculture Sector afte…

close 0.7% Growth is observed in Agriculture Sector after the 3rd Quarter
August 28, 2020 more_vert

Food has led to disingenuous, desperate disinforma…

close Food has led to disingenuous, desperate disinformation campaign’ as Lightlife attacks ‘hyperproc…
October 16, 2020 more_vert

Watermelon Music space ready to see Fast-Food Chai…

close Watermelon Music space ready to see Fast-Food Chain soon
August 24, 2020 more_vert

Trader Joe is planning to change few names and pac…

close Trader Joe is planning to change few names and packaging of its ethnic food brands, but doesn’…
© 2021. Smart Food and Beverages News. All Rights Reserved