Volume 4, Number 19 September 17, 2001
The "New Agricultural World Order"
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad
On September 27, 2001 the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Weekend is scheduled to host a forum called "Is There A Future for African Americans in Agriculture?". If the forum is indeed held considering the gravity of the "Attack on America" of September 11, 2001, we wanted to be sure to bring us up to date on the plight of the Black farmers in their struggle to survive in an environment where their desire for justice may be outweighed by the priorities of the planners of the "New Agricultural World Order".
Back in December of 1998 I started video taping the story of the Black farmers’ struggle against the USDA which has now been compiled in a 2:20 hour documentary
entitled "’Snake’ in the Reparations’ Grass". Even though a class action lawsuit was being negotiated supposedly for the benefit of the farmers, I smelled a "snake". I could not prove what I felt, so I just began to tape.
In editing and reviewing the video footage a statement made by the president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA), Gary Grant, struck my consciousness. The Black farmers have never understood why the American government seemed to be so callous towards their pain and in fact was the cause of much of that pain.
On December 17, 1997 there was a scheduled meeting with the Black farmers and the president of the United States. Black farmers had hoped that the president could use his executive powers to forestall the impending foreclosures by the USDA of up to 3,000 Black farms. However, two days before the meeting it was changed to a small farmers’ meeting. Gary Grant was at that meeting and he related to us on December 13, 1999 some of the contents of that meeting:
"For Black farmers to be in that room talking about what was happening to them and he is telling us that he feels our pain and he shakes the hand of an Asian. And this is what I heard him say to him, ‘I am so glad that you all are here and that you are looking at farming. And I want you to tell your people to keep coming and coming on the land to do agriculture.’"
Black farmers, who are basically small farmers, were being kicked off of their land. Now we hear more about white family farmers being kicked off of their land due to low commodity prices. Most of these farmers are completely lost as to why the government seems to have abandoned them as well. They can not believe that there may be a governmental plan to remove them from the land. They ask such questions as "If the farmers go out of business, then what will America eat?"
To answer that question we must first understand the nature of agriculture in America. First, over 80% of the land in America is devoted to the raising of animals, either through grazing or growing corn, soybeans and other feed stocks for animal consumption. These type of enterprises are basically "capital intensive" and "land extensive". Here in Southwest Georgia for instance, they say if you are not farming at least 5,000 acres, then you need to get out of farming. Now of course most Black farmers average between 100 and 300 acres, so automatically are too small to compete in these land extensive and capital intensive types of agriculture.
I was somewhat shocked to discover that although Georgia is the second largest producer of vegetables for the fresh market, only 3.7% of her land is used for vegetable production. The rest of her over 3 million acres of crop land is used for cotton, peanuts, feed corn, wheat and soybeans. Now cotton, feed corn, soybeans have been the major focus of genetic engineering which is further reducing the amount of labor needed to grow these commodities, thus allowing large corporate farms to take over the production of these crops.
Vegetable production is labor intensive and this is why there are over 6 million illegal aliens in America working at slave wages to keep the flow of cheap vegetables coming to the market. One day these "illegal" aliens are going to win some type of legal status and demand a descent wage.
Now let me add this seemingly unrelated fact that Black people and Hispanic people are growing in population at a faster rate than white people.
Couple this with the fact that for China to enter the World Trade Organization she must agree to reduce her farm population by 10 million per year. Now we have the ingredients for understanding the recipe for this "new world order" when it comes to agriculture in America. Bring in the Asians and put them on the land to produce the vegetables. They know how to do it organically anyway because that’s the way they had to do it in China. So the rich can still get the organically grown vegetables while the slaves eat meat fed off of genetically engineered feed crops.
Asians stick to themselves, Hispanics stick to themselves and the glue that held Blacks together was decomposed by slavery. It may be very hard for these separate ethnic groups to find common ground allowing white folks to play the "divide and conquer" game even as they lose the numbers game.
For archived articles on the struggle of the Black farmers please visit "THE FARMER Newsletter" at http://www.muhammadfarms.com