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NC State Extension

Equity Issues and NC Farmland Ownership

We believe that educating ourselves on the issue of racism in the context of farmland ownership is one way we can take action on NC State Chancellor Woodson’s request that we “lead the way forward toward equality, equity and justice” to  “overcome ignorance, unite against intolerance, model inclusivity, and advance the dignity and power of diversity”. He also asked the university community “to eliminate racism and all other forms of discrimination” by embracing “with humility that we all have more to learn as it relates to understanding our own places of prejudice and how we can strive to overcome how these impact our own actions” 

Let’s start with the facts and a few charts based on historical agricultural census and general population data. This first chart represents Black & African American farm ownership as a proportion of Black & White farm ownership. The graph also shows Black & African American general population data as a percent of the Black and White population. The earliest data available is for the year 1900.

You might be asking yourself what happened from 1960 to 1990 that resulted in the steep decline (12% to 3%) in Black & African American farm ownership while the general population of Blacks & African Americans percent of Blacks & Whites remained relatively constant at ~23%. 

We also share graphs on the number of farms owned by Blacks & African Americans and by Whites as well as the acres they owned.

For your information, we share the general population of Blacks and Whites as well as other groups from 1790, the first date this information is available.

There is much more information to further explore how NC State can engage in anti-racist efforts. One of those issues is to work proactively to resolve their property challenges in a systemic and individual landowner manner. For more information consider these resources at UNC and the Southern Rural Development Center and Heirs Property Retention CenterAdditional resources on this topic include a CEFS webinar a Propublica article.

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