The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) has received an amazing gift. A grant of $100,000 was awarded to the association by FCA North America to support students who want to study agriculture at a two or four year college. Eligible students may apply to receive up to $5,000 in scholarships.
Applications are available at the association’s website. The scholarship offer will end when 100 applications are received and approved.
Jody Trapasso, senior vice president of External Affairs, FCA North America and president of the FCA Foundation, said, “ We should accept nothing less than a world in which everyone has access to a safe, healthy, and sufficient food supply. Our hope is that these scholarships provide farmers with the inspiration and knowledge to help this vision become a reality.”
John Byrd, president of the NBFA, was thrilled. “Educating Black farmers provides an opportunity to increase and advance agricultural technology, which will be passed on as a vital part of our rich farming legacy to future generations. Scholarships to Black farm families for agricultural programs of study will increase the number of young Black farmers,” he said.
The NBFA is a non-profit whose sole purpose is to represent Black farmers and their families through loans, training, rural economic development, and education and advocacy outreaches with a focus on civil rights. Fourth-generation Black farmer John Boyd founded the NBFA in 1995 in Virginia.
Some of the major work the NBFA has performed through the years includes fighting for farm subsidies and trying to get an equal share of the money for Black farmers. They also represent Black farmers who face massive discrimination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and are often denied loans, aide and disaster assistance that White farmers receive.
The most important victory of the NBFA was the 1997 discrimination suit against the USDA. According to the association’s website, the resulting settlement in favor of 22,363 Black farmers was a landmark decision and “the largest-ever civil rights class action settlement in American history,” with a judgment for over $2 billion.
The association felt this was a great victory, but was not fully-satisfied, as over 70,000 Black farmers were excluded from the lawsuit. Sadly, much of the awarded money still has not been paid by the government, and the lawsuits and struggles to get the money to the farmers continues.
The life of a Black farmers is not easy. While the number of Black farmers increased in 2012 from 2007, almost 80 percent of these farms had annual sales of less than $10,000, with another 16 percent making less than $50,000. Only half of Black farmers reported having internet connection.