DSU’s College of Agriculture, Science and Technology Dean Cherese Winstead breaks down Black farmers' needs
DSU’s College of Agriculture, Science and Technology Dean Cherese Winstead says creating the inaugural Black Farmers’ Conference was a year and a half in the making, but the number of Black farmers has plummeted for over a hundred years.
Winstead says in the early 1900s, about 17% of farmers were black, and in 2023, that number was 1.7%.
The First State African American Farmers Association suggested a conference to bring legislators, educators and farmers together to discuss how to support minority farmers.
Winstead believes many farmers simply aren’t aware of the financial assistance available.
“Just not understanding fully well what those wealth of resources are that exist within the government, which has led to that loss of 16 million acres of land lost," she said."
Winstead is referring to Black farmers losing an estimated 90% of the 16 million acres of land they owned by 1997.
“We really do have to educate and make our local farmers more aware of the resources, and that just really starts with those discussions with the U.S. government," she added.
During the conference, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced reparation funding for farmers who faced financial discrimination and bolstered insurance plans for smaller farms.
In addition to helping Black farmers find resources, Winstead says reducing the length and complexity of financial assistance applications can make a huge difference for minority farmers.
She hopes the Black Farmers’ conference becomes an annual event and ultimately helps increase the number of Black farmers in Delaware.