WI Program Connects Black Farmers to Grain Market
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
MADISON, Wis. -- Federal data show the farming industry is older and mostly white, and an emerging Wisconsin program could open more pathways by training for small grain production, in an effort to remove barriers for people of color pursuing agriculture.
With the support of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Dane County's Neighborhood Food Solutions, known for helping those formerly incarcerated learn about urban agriculture in South Madison, aims to teach Black farmers how to grow and sell grain products such as rye, oats and rice.
Robert Pierce, founder and executive director of Neighborhood Food Solutions, said while his nonprofit is tied to a large urban setting, it can also show aspiring producers how to succeed with commodities beyond fruits and vegetables.
"Teaching and showing young Black farmers that there's money to be made if you do things right, and the commodities are a way of doing this," Pierce explained.
Organizers hope the new program taking shape helps Black farmers embrace more intensive production, including equipment operation, while overcoming disparities in owning land. The latest Census of Agriculture said Black farmers make up less than 1% of Wisconsin producers.
Donale Richards, food systems program manager at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, said beyond production, another component is showing how to have success with customers at local events, such as the South Madison Farmer's Market.
"To provide visibility that, yes, there are people of color who are doing this, and there is a lot of support to help people enter this as well," Richards pointed out.
He noted the support is important because a number of grain markets around Wisconsin are very competitive. For those in South Madison, he said it boosts access to healthier foods for underserved communities.
Richards added in general, farming can be a hard industry to break into if you don't have connections, and there has been a longstanding disconnect between traditional forms of outreach and the Black community.
"It's available, but it's not something that's really been concentrated for people of color to really understand and get that training," Richards remarked.
Other partners for the project include the Artisan Grain Collaborative and Meadowlark Organics.
get more stories like this via email
Nevada is set to lose 8% of its Colorado River water allotment next year because of perilously low water levels at Lakes Mead and Powell caused by a 2…
Although President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, many are hoping he will declare a climate emergency to provide further …
The Bureau of Land Management is kicking off its planning process for managing Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with several public hearing…
The midterm elections are less than three months away, and in Iowa, recruiting continues for those interested in helping at polling sites, where the …
As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis defends and expands his call to have military veterans bypass the teacher certification process to become educators…
President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday, providing a means for making prescription drug prices more affordable in the …
Health and Wellness
A relatively new virus known as monkeypox has made its way to the state of Washington. About 280 cases have been reported, with 240 occurring in King …
Health and Wellness
Coloradans struggling economically put their health at risk when they decide not to turn on cooling systems, frequently out of fear of not being able …