“Not a new pattern”: Black farmers’ perspectives on barriers to participating in federal farm programs





Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Black Farmers, Federal Farm Programs, USDA, Race, Agriculture, Black Agrarianism, Rural Development


Although there are more opportunities and re­vamped avenues for socially disadvantaged farmers to participate in federal agricultural program since Pigford v. Glickman, the first Black farmer class action lawsuit against USDA and subsequent billion dollar settlement, there is not a lot of scholarly research on Black farmers’ perspectives and experiences in accessing and using these programs today. Using data from nine focus groups in Mississippi with 89 Black farmers, we find that Black farmers and ranchers identify several barriers to program participation, namely communication about programs and problems with the application and approval process, including a lack of standardization and transparency. Inter­woven throughout the discussions of barriers were conversations about racial and gender discrimina­tion, with producers soundly in agreement that the former persists, and the latter is an issue. This research informs our understandings of Black farmers’ experiences of how racial hierarchies and networks continue to shape their ability to access and participate in federal farm programs; policy recommendations are provided.


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Author Biographies

Kelli J. Russell, Mississippi State University

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology

Leslie Hossfeld, Clemson University

Professor of Sociology and Dean, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Gina Rico Mendez, Mississippi State University

Assistant Research Professor, Social Science Research Center



How to Cite

Russell, K., Hossfeld, L., & Rico Mendez, G. (2021). “Not a new pattern”: Black farmers’ perspectives on barriers to participating in federal farm programs. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(4), 195–209. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2021.104.007