Farmers, ranchers and agricultural advocates spoke to new senators and congressional leaders on the House and Senate agricultural committees and USDA representatives about the next farm bill and how to make it equitable for all.
The president and executive director of the Kansas Black Farmers Association, JohnElla Holmes, Ph.D., spoke at a virtual event that was put on by Family Farm Action, a coalition of farmers, workers and local businesses who are challenging large corporations, hoping to build a sustainable, inclusive economy in which everyone can share in the prosperity they help build.
Holmes, who is not a member of the group, spoke about underrepresented farmers and ranchers and how every farmer needs to be treated fairly in this new bill. The 2023 Farm Bill will set economic agricultural policy for a number of years.
“One of the things that I totally agreed with the group and kind of lead the way on is that a fair farm bill is going to be good for everybody; not just BIPOC farmers but for everybody,” Holmes said. “I wanted to make sure that fair farm practices were included and equity was also included.”
Holmes spoke to U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall and U.S. Congressman Tracey Mann, among others.
In a meeting with USDA Under Secretary Jenny Moffitt and Deputy Under Secretary Mae Wu, former Nebraska state senator, Al Davis, said that “the thinness of markets in the cattle industry has resulted in a significant decline in the rancher’s share of the retail dollar.”
Davis told the group that to revitalize rural America, the markets need to be addressed.
Missourian Barbara Ross said she has watched the small towns of Missouri hollow out because there are no opportunities, informing the group that people need to be able to engage in agriculture without being under the thumb of some corporation.
Along with speaking at this organization, Holmes also served as a keynote speaker for Quivira Coalition at their Regenerate —Weaving Water, Land and People gathering in New Mexico. She said it is important to bring the voice of underrepresented farmers to others.
“It’s worth my time and my effort to make sure that our voices are heard,” Holmes said. “A fair farm bill is paramount for our survival and will help Black farmers hold on to their land.”