"The Next Generation, That's Why We Continue To Do What We Do": African American Farmers Speak About Experiences with Land Ownership and Loss in North Carolina
AbstractAfrican Americans face institutional and social discrimination. The deleterious effects of discriminatory practices continue to be barriers to maintaining the family farm. Discriminatory lending is associated with farmland loss, such that the number of African American farmers in the United States has been falling at a much higher rate than that of White farmers. This community-based participatory research (CBPR) study sought to give voice to the experiences and perceptions of a small group of African American farmers in northeastern North Carolina. Researchers used Photovoice, a qualitative CBPR methodology, to identify strengths, concerns, and action steps in regards to farming and farmland loss in the community. This study revealed positive protective factors associated with farming, and long-lasting negative economic and psychological effects of discriminatory lending. Protective factors include increased self-reliance, strong work ethic, and hope for a new generation of African American farmers. Institutional discrimination remains a reported risk factor against maintaining generational family farming activities. Study participants reported a fear of further loss of the African American farming heritage as they perceive youth being deterred from the profession due to the combined effects of witnessing discrimination against their parents and the lure of fast, and often risky, money. This preliminary research revealed that African American farmers in the community of this study would benefit from innovative and engaging programs for youth, broadband internet access, and continued modification to current lending systems, including localized representation.
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