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Re-Entering African-American Farmers: Recent Trends And A Policy Rationale


  • Wood, Spencer D.
  • Gilbert, Jess


Today, there are only about 15,000 black farmers in the United States. Declining by 98 percent since 1920, black farmers have suffered losses attributable to public policy, economic pressures, and racial oppression. All of these factors must be addressed if African-American farmers are to survive. In this paper, we use Census of Agriculture data and a follow-on survey in one Mississippi Delta county to review the current situation of black farmers. We introduce the concept of "re-entering farmers" to suggest that a significant number of black farmers, who are not defined as "farmers" by the Census, still own land and want to farm again. The first section of the paper provides a brief overview of the historical and current trends of black farmers in the United States. The second section discusses Delta County, drawing upon our survey and the Census of Agriculture. The third section discusses the implications of civil rights violations by the former Farmers Home Administration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Finally, we conclude with a policy recommendation to slow the drastic decline of African-American farmers.

Suggested Citation

  • Wood, Spencer D. & Gilbert, Jess, 1998. "Re-Entering African-American Farmers: Recent Trends And A Policy Rationale," Working Papers 12782, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Land Tenure Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uwltwp:12782

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Seiichi Fukui, 1997. "The Meaning of Kinship in Sharecropping Contracts," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(2), pages 394-406.
    2. Ellis, Gene, 1980. "Land Tenancy Reform in Ethiopia: A Retrospective Analysis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 523-545, April.
    3. Lehmann, David, 1986. "Sharecropping and the capitalist transition in agriculture : Some evidence from the highlands of Ecuador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 333-354, October.
    4. Ferreira, Léo Rocha, 1980. "Um modelo de programação com risco para a agricultura do Nordeste," Revista Brasileira de Economia - RBE, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 34(3), July.
    5. Huang, Chung-Huang, 1991. "Inefficiency due to tenancy protection: a new tenure problem in Taiwan," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 121-133, June.
    6. repec:mes:jeciss:v:26:y:1992:i:2:p:365-372 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Otsuka, Keijiro & Chuma, Hiroyuki & Hayami, Yujiro, 1992. "Land and Labor Contracts in Agrarian Economies: Theories and Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 1965-2018, December.
    8. Parikshit Ghosh, 1995. "On The Coexistence of Share, Rent and Wage Contracts in a Rural Economy," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 58, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
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