In response to the calls for racial equality amplified by the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, John Deere created a coalition to help Black farmers across the US.
The LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy, and Production) Coalition seeks to equip Black farmers with legal and financial resources to ensure longevity in the agricultural business.
Last year, John Deere partnered with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to create the LEAP coalition, which aims to help Black farmers and their families overcome legal obstacles stemming from heirs' property disputes https://t.co/lRctSqUX5P
— CNN (@CNN) May 14, 2021
The decline in Black farmers has been rapid and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic those numbers took even more of a hit.
Over a century ago, Black farmers owned and operated farms on more than 16 million acres of land, compared to the modest 4.7 million acres today.
Racial discrimination in lending and land ownership led to the decline of Black-owned farmland in the US, though several legislative and programmatic efforts have been underway to help more Black farmers.
“Many Black landowners avoided formal estate planning and passed property without a will,” John Deere’s Vice President of US Policy & Strategy, Collis Jones said in a news release.
“Without a will, a landowner’s property would simply be passed to heirs. Over generations, however, heirs’ property created both increasingly fractional ownership as well as a clouded title.”
After years of discrimination against Black farmers (leading to a boycott against John Deere by Black farmers in 2020), the company is finally listening and being proactive in reversing years of systemic racism.
The LEAP initiative partners with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to provide legal resources to Black farmers looking to secure a title for their land.
— Dan Miller (@DMillerPF) September 2, 2016
“Securing the land title for Blacks will not only unlock incoherent economic value for them, but it will also allow us to help eliminate long-standing systemic barriers, that come with systemic racism. This will help land improvement and wealth-building that has constrained many diverse farmers across the United States,” Denver Caldwell, a director at the company iterated.”
The Justice for Black Farmers Act introduced by Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Corey Booker (D-NJ), earlier this year seeks to undo the injustice Black farmers and farmers of color faced during the early and mid 1900’s.
President Joe Biden also set aside $5 million of coronavirus pandemic aid for Black farmers.