In a historic milestone, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) will mark a quarter of a century standing up for tens of thousands of African American farmers and their families, helping them fight for the same rights and opportunities millions of other farmers have been afforded.
The NBFA will hold its 25th annual conference in Birmingham, Alabama on November 6-7, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport Hotel. Participants will hear from a number of noted speakers, including Hillary Clinton campaign representative who was a former top advisor to President Bill Clinton and the head of his successful 1992 campaign for President, James Carville. President Obama said in a letter to NBFA members “the NBFA has played a central role in ensuring all Americans have the chance to lend their hard work and ingenuity to our Nation’s harvests and to share in its bounty.” The Obama Administration is sending Stephanie Young, Director of African American Outreach, Office of Public Engagement, to address the conference on behalf of the White House.
“Over the last 25 years, the nation’s black farmers have seen both successes and setbacks in our ongoing struggle to have the same opportunities others have always had access to,” said Dr. John Boyd, Founder and President of the NBFA. “For far too long, our community has been denied access to vital programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist farmers. However, some of those doors that had once been slammed shut due to discrimination have been opened as a result of the pressure NBFA has brought to bear on our leaders in Washington. All we’ve asked is to be able to produce safe, affordable and abundant food for Americans with an equitable safety net for all family farmers regardless of race and color,” Boyd added.
While they could not attend the event in-person, President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) have sent letters of greetings and support to those coming to the conference.
“While I regret that I cannot be with you in person, I join you from afar in celebrating a quarter century of NFBA’s vital work – and I commend you all for your commitment to “growing opportunities” for yourselves and others,” Secretary Clinton wrote.
“My devotion to the cause of allowing all people to live well will never end and I hope yours will not either,” wrote Congressman Lewis in his letter to the NBFA. “I wish your organization the best as it continues the fight for equal opportunity. Keep the faith!”
Congresswoman Sewell shared in her letter of support "Your organization helps many farmers nationwide, especially in my home state of Alabama. Your focused advocacy efforts on rural economic development, access to loans, education, land retention, and especially civil rights, have changed the lives of so many farmers."
The NBFA is a non-profit, community organization founded in the early 1990's, by John Boyd, Jr., of Baskerville, Virginia, a fourth generation farmer who was determined to hold on to his heritage, and save his farm from foreclosure caused by racial discrimination under the USDA.
Boyd founded the NBA after encountering the USDA's discriminatory practices first-hand and meeting many more black farmers who shared this experience. In 2007 research, released jointly by NBFA and Environmental Working Group (EWG), showed black farmers received between one-third to one-sixth of the benefits under major federal crop subsidy programs that other farmers receive. The organization encourages the participation of small and disadvantaged farmers in gaining access to resources of state and federal programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Shortly after creating the NBFA, Boyd led its members in a march on the White House, where he eventually met with President Clinton and testified before Congress about the plight of black farmers.
In 2007 then Senator Obama sponsored the black farmers bill the measure past in the farm bill allowing 80,000 black farmers to have their cases heard on merits. After years of pressing congress for action a bill was past for 1.25B the largest settlement in history for African Americans. President Obama sign the historic bill “The Claims Remedy Act” on December 8, 2010.