The origins of the National Black Growers Council date back to 2006, when a group of Black row crop farmers met to address issues vital to the viability of their operations.
In 2010 those farmers formerly organized as a non-profit organization (National Black Growers Council) with a 12-member board of directors and an executive director. NBGC’s mission is to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of Black row-crop farmers.
In 2020, the NBGC joined with John Deere and Thurgood Marshall College Fund to form the LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy and Production Systems) coalition to help eliminate barriers created by heirs' property and provide resources to advance the lives and livelihoods of Black farmers.
"Heirs' property affects us economically because often times we don't receive compensation for our land due to the problems of identifying owners of record,” explained NBGC Chairman P. J. Haynie.
Heirs' property is land jointly owned by descendants of someone who didn't leave a legal will; thereby, leaving them without a clear title. This is the leading cause of involuntary land loss among Black landowners. Other factors include lack of access to resources and information, and distrust in judicial and legal systems.
Haynie said not having an heir designated to sign the lease for the farm, creates numerous issues.
“The farmer who wants to lease the farm cannot benefit from USDA programs, i.e. subsidies, loans, crop insurance, etc.,” Haynie noted. “Those benefits help farmers weather difficult years and improve the profitability of their farming operation.”
Haynie who farms in Arkansas and Virginia added, “We’ve been saying all along that Black farmers lag behind our white neighbors because our white neighbors have the privilege of getting their land in these programs. And, when it comes to subsidies, we’re receiving 25 cents on the dollar that they’re receiving on fields that are right next to each other.”