PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WSAV) — Right off the road in Port Wentworth sits The Promised Land Farm. Robert Johnson, known mostly as “Uncle Bob,” said he and his brother Bill have been farming the land for decades.
Uncle Bob said it’s the only Black-owned farm he knows of in the area. But Black farmers like Uncle Bob and Uncle Bill could be in danger of becoming extinct.
“If we don’t get farmers to the table to do the paperwork, to get the information, to know about the grants to USDA that are available to take time to get equipped on how to of to build and further their focus of expanding their farm,” said Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City. “They’re not going to survive.”
It’s an industry some say is already on life support. The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus said Black farm ownership has dropped by 90% in the past century, and they’re less likely to get grants or loans.
In 2021, President Joe Biden awarded Black farmers $5 billion as part of the COVID-19 relief package. In March, Promoting Precision Agriculture Act was passed along party lines to create a standard for farming technology.
But Gilliard said a lot of that money is still in limbo.
“The funds have been, you know, they’re there but they haven’t been distributed,” Gilliard said. “So right now farmers are hurting the very survival of generations of generations of these farmers.”
Gilliard said the Black Farmers Tour would bring those farmers to the table, helping them apply for grants and loans. He said that money could keep operations just like The Promised Land afloat. Gilliard also said giving a boost to local farmers could help with food shortages.
“This is a part of coming together to further the welfare of Black farmers and underserved areas, not just Black farmers, but the rural areas of farmers that are barely surviving in this climate.”