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Save the Land: Black Farmers Benefit & Rally

Tillery, NC - On Saturday, October 23, 2010, the first SAVE THE LAND: Black Farmers & Landowners Benefit & Rally is being held in the rural farming community of Tillery, NC where the 1930s’ New Deal Tillery Resettlement Farms is located. 

The event, the first of its kind, is being held to bring awareness to the continued struggle of black farmers and landowners and to raise funds to build the establishment of a money fund to support them

The event will also serve as a call to action among supporters of black farmers in the ongoing Pigford class action lawsuit.  

BFAA (Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association), a 501©(3) non-profit organization that is a leader in the efforts to resolve the outstanding discrimination cases of farmers against the US Department of Agriculture in Pigford and new claims filed during the Bush Administration that now face Statue of Limitations. 

BFAA is the host for the event.

The main event on Saturday will feature a variety of Jazz, Gospel, Rhythm and Blues music by local, regional and nationally established artists. 

Artist Ermitt “Mr. Blues” Williams, Johns Island, SC; Mad Praise Recording Artists Ahnu and Crystal Cler, Raleigh, NC; and Siobhan Quinn and Micahel Bowers, Washington, DC along with the Might Men of Valor, Scotland Neck, NC  are set to perfrom. 

Farmers will share their stories, food, and other types of related vendors have been invited to participate at the rally as well.  

Saturday’s activities will also bring together leaders and activists who are well informed about black land loss and black farming against the larger backdrop of agribusiness and its development across the South, as well as its impact nationally on family farmers.

On Friday evening, organizers will host a reception and will show two documentary films:  Alaska Far Away: The New Deal Pioneers of the Matanuska Colony produced by Paul Hill and Joan Juster; and We Shall Not Be Moved: The History of the Tillery Resettlement Farm produced by the Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT) and directed by Charlie D. Thompson, Jr., PhD and Chris Potter, Adjunct Professors at the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC.

The two documentaries

The two documentaries tell the story of two Resettlement Communities established under the Resettlement Administration of President FDR’s New Deal era. 

The stories, one about a white Resettlement Community in Alaska, and the other about a black Resettlement Community in Tillery, NC, have actual resettlers telling the stories of the struggle for survival and the impact that these New Deal communities had on the two states as well as how the people survived and faired. 

The Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT), producers of the Tillery story have also established a history museum to help tell their story and it will be open during the Friday and Saturday events supporting the struggle for survival of the black farmers.

Why a call for a benefit for and history of black farmers

In all the years of struggle to save black owned land and farmers, there has not been a real Revolving Loan Fund for black farmers since the crushing of the Land Assistance Fund in the 1970s fielded by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and the Land Loss Fund established by the Concerned Citizens of Tillery in the 1980s.

This event will rejuvenate the Land Loss Fund as the CCT/BFAA Land Loss Fund, a national fund for assistance. Such a fund will be there for the hard and trying times to assist with:

Ø      Retention: Help farmers get crops in fields on time, weather financial stress, and avoid tax delinquency.

Ø      Acquisition: Purchase land that is threatened until the family can repurchase, provide small loans to assist new farmers who want to enter agriculture, and link sellers and buyers.

Ø      Advocate: Work with other groups to advocate for black farmers and agricultural policies that benefit family farms and nutritional food.

Ø      Educate: Continue education on the significance of black land and agriculture for the well being of all.

Black farmer facts:

Ø      Between 1920 and 1992 the number of black farmers in the U.S. declined from 925,710 to 18,816 – or 98%

Ø      In 1910, Africans owned 15.6 million acres of farm land

Ø      In 1982, Africans owned 3.1 million acres of farm land.

Ø      Between 1984 – 1985, the USDA lent over $1.3 billion to 16,000 farmers to buy land. Only 209 of those farmers were African

Ø      In 1981, 48% of all black-operated farms were 50 acres or less

Ø      In 1981, only 4% of black farmers were under the age of 35

Ø      Overall, from 1920 through 1999, there has been a 98% decline in black farmers nation wide from almost one million to just around 18,000

Ø      In North Carolina, there has been a 70% loss of farms and a decline of 67% black land ownership, nearly 300,000 acres or $1.2 billion dollars of lost assets to the African community covering the years of the Pigford Class Action, 1981-1996.

Now is your time to help – Over the last fourteen years, many have called the BFAA office asking how for information as to how they might be able to help. Well, now is your time. We need:

Ø      Performing artists who will donate their talent to this venture (limited to 22 acts on Saturday);

Ø      Public relations people who know how to promote an event such as this and are able to donate their time;

Ø      Socially responsible companies that support family farms to sponsor “The Tent,” “The Stage,” “The Sound System” and more;

Ø      Those with technical skills for such an event to donate their time and become a part of the BFAA Planning Committee to help defray costs and relieve an already overworked too-small of a group;

Ø      And finally, we need people to make a tax deductible donation to the CCT/BFAA Land Loss Fund.

And as you well know, there are many other ways to volunteer to assist with this event. Just contact the BFAA office at bfaausnow@aol.com or tillery@aol.com. Visit the BFAA web site, www.bfaa-us.org, for more information. WE ARE LOOKING FOR YOU TO FULFILL YOUR OFFER TO HELP!!!

Contact: Gary R. Grant, President (252) 826-2800

 

 

 

 

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