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
Voting advocates say more and more Michiganders are choosing to cast absentee ballots to save time and avoid long lines on Election Day. In 2020…
With the election a little over a month away, some say caregiving and long-term care are issues too big for candidates in Oregon to ignore. There …
Health and Wellness
COVID upended many routines, including Texas parents getting kids in for regularly scheduled childhood vaccines. Data from the Texas Department of …
Pennsylvania has a strong commitment to urban agriculture and community gardening, and some groups in the state are working to get more colorful …
Georgia Power is reducing its reliance on coal by phasing out several coal-fired units. However, clean-energy advocates say the company should …
A new report on Black students in the community college system found fewer are signing up to attend two-year schools, and the college enrollment …
Greenhouse gas emissions have been potentially reduced by 50,000 tons in the state, with the help of Wisconsin farmers supported by a statewide …
Social Security benefits again could see their highest increase in several decades, but those advocating for beneficiaries say there is still plenty …