Volume 5, Number 21                                                    May 31, 2002

The Farmer


"Fighting the Hidden Agenda": Agriculture & Black Survival Conference

By Lawrence A. Muhammad


The first annual Agriculture & Black Survival Conference was attended by over 30 brothers and sisters from: Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Missouri, Illinois and the Carolinas; and, local farmers of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA).

Each day contained valuable information and practical demonstrations to help understand the need to produce and distribute food to the 40 million people of our community, people we have been instructed to feed by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, our Messenger. The conference was facilitated by Muhammad Farms’ manager, Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad and his wife, Sister Anne Muhammad on the campus of Mercer University in Macon, GA.

Much of the conference occurred away from Mercer University. We visited a Farmer’s Market in Macon and received sound advice, from local business persons, about the how-to's of buying produce/fruit and the factors to consider in those decisions. Facilities for getting wheat, produce, and watermelons to market were included in our tours. One of our major goals is to go back to our respective cities and figure out ways to distribute foodstuff in our communities, especially Black farmer’s products. Cooperatives are a way for this to be accomplished. Working with existing food cooperatives, in your community, or establishing new ones would be a local decision. Muhammad Farms and the BFAA are available for technical assistance.

Local farmers, from the Black Farmers Agricultural Association (BFAA) met with us Saturday. The Georgia Chapter of BFAA's President, Eddie Slaughter, conducted their regularly scheduled meeting at Mercer University, allowing us to get updated on their plight and fight against the USDA, Black politicians, and others who are consciously and in some cases unconsciously part of the effort to prevent Black Farmers from recovering their lost land. Land lost as a result of programmatic deception and political gobbledygook. The recently passed Farm Bill, states Mr. Slaughter, "was $190 billion dollars… 90% of all that money and subsidies will go to your largest corporate farmers in this country.

The Cargills, Continental Grain, Tyson Poultry and all these other people." Mr. Slaughter further states, "…what you have to realize is that 60% of Black farmers will not even get or receive one penny of that money and the few of them that do will have less than one percent of everything that white farmers receive."

On the subject of the Consent Decree, to accept the terms of the out of court settlement, Mr. Slaughter told us that, "Joseph Lowery was brought out of retirement to sell Black farmers on Consent Decree. They gave him thousands, and thousands, and thousands of dollars to do it… after they did this; everybody was calling in, praising Joseph Lowery for brokering a $2.5 billion dollar settlement for Black farmers in America. ‘That’s the biggest lie that was ever told! … They named a street after Joseph Lowery in Atlanta somewhere". Mr. Slaughter went on to say, "Joseph Lowery, I can forgive him because he’s not going to prosper because of it. He is only just one in a whole slew of them [Black leaders] that did us all these years". Mr. Slaughter believes that although their numbers are small, " BFAA is not going to give up because one, with God, is a majority".

The BFAA has filed a lawsuit against the USDA, and others, but not to get money. They filed a lawsuit to get their land returned to them not $50,000. The important matter is that the land must be secured because the 40 million strong in this country is getting ready to lose the ability to feed themselves. Mr. Slaughter states, "To lose the ability to feed ourselves is unconscionable for a people this big and this strong… there is something seriously wrong us as a people. Our (BFAA) slogan is ‘A landless people is a helpless people’. And for us to turn Black farmers into refugees in this country… everybody should be crying out from every pulpit in this country, across this land, about this kind of injustice!"

The highlight of the conference was the "Footsteps Of The Messenger" tour. We visited the cities of Sandersville, Deepstep, Wenona, Arabi, Macon and Cordele in Georgia, all of the places where The Messenger walked: the church where his father preached and he met Sister Clara, Poole Road, the train stations he surely used, the site of a lynching he observed, the places he lived and worked. What a way to get ‘high’.

No one gets tour would be complete without putting some time in at Muhammad Farms. We had the privilege of helping to get rid of some weeds that were growing around the organic Black Diamond watermelons that will be ready for harvest starting at the end of June. We also picked several bushels of squash that were ripe for picking – some of which we brought home. If you want to be a part of the success of the Three-Year Economic Program, by participating in Muhammad Farms activities, then use the following means for contact. Email: drrridgely@muhammadfarms.com; go on the website www.muhammadfarms.com; call Dr. Ridgely or Sis. Anne Muhammad at (888) 995-8119, or fax (229) 995-6771. Reserve your weekend or week day. There is always something to do and see. Public and private schools are also encouraged to visit Muhammad Farms so our children can see what a real farm is.

The contact information can also be used to place orders for upcoming crops, delivered to your city. The Muhammad Farms website has a calendar of crop production for you to view. Your local Farm Marketing Coordinator is your best contact for arranging crop deliveries to your community.