Volume 3, Number 5                                                                                                                                         April 20, 2000

The Farmer


Debt is Slavery

by Gary Grant and Dr. Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad

As we walked the streets of D.C. on Sunday, April 16th carrying our BFAA banner it was enlightening to observe the response of the other

protesters and news reporters to us. Some asked us, “Why were Black farmers here protesting the IMF and World Bank?” Some asked, “Why weren’t there more Black people from the D.C.. area participating in the demonstrations?" At the end of the day Gary R. Grant, president of the Black Farmers &Agriculturists Association (BFAA) stated, “This was a good day. We meta lot of people. We got a lot of interviews with the alternative press and we got some people to see the connection between how the USDA treats Black farmers and how the World Bank and IMF treats the Third World." We also noticed that as big as our banner was, the mainstream media managed to ignore us. We were giving an interview to a college newspaper right next to a CNN setup. We noticed the CNN reporters listening to our conversation and thought that they may turn their cameras on us and interview us next. However, by the time we finished the interview with the students they were gone, poof. It became quite apparent that the seeming “here no evil, see no evil” behavior of the major media in regards to the continued discrimination of USDA against the Black farmers was not a figment of our imagination. Our issue is to be kept a non-issue if the “big boys” have anything to do with it. In fact the media has interviewed Dan Glickman but not the Black farmers about the USDA’s progress on “minority” issues. The Washington Post ran an article on April14 where they allowed the Secretary of Agriculture to give his one sided view of the efforts of USDA to improve its track record. Of course Glickman put the best light possible on the situation. However he never mentioned the number of Black farmers that had been thrown out of the lawsuit and when ever he mentioned" improvements” he always said “minorities” but no Black farmers or African-Americans. One must understand that minorities include women (white women), Native Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and African Americans. Now that we have had a chance to look at some of denial letters, it is very apparent that the majority of the applicants that have received compensation either never farmed, already out of farming or are now too old to go back into farming. On the other hand, those Black farmers who are still trying to farm are being denied, no land held in government inventory has been given back and farmers are not being given debt relief from old USDA loans. This says to us that the USDA has a hidden agenda of not allowing Black farmers to farm, not wanting Black people to be able to feed themselves and the major news media is in on it. Now, why did the Black farmers come to participate in the demonstrations against the World Bank and IMF? Answer: The tactics utilized by the USDA loan programs to eliminate Black family farmers are the same tactics now being utilized by the World Bank and IMF to destroy family farmers all over the world. 

These tactics include: 

1) Loaning money to one sector at the expense of another causing unbalanced development and strife between sectors and peoples; 

2) funding programs that would make the farmers more dependent on outside inputs for production and outside markets for sales; 3) eliminating small scale sideline operations of small farmers that they utilized to develop cash flow, forcing dependency on borrowed capital to operate; 

4) the loan programs fund projects that require additional indebtedness putting once land owned free and clear under the burden of debt, and thereby vulnerable to market changes beyond control of the individual farmer, thus eventually rendering the land into the hands of the large corporations; 

5).utilize the few people or groups that are funded with government money to keep the others in line, making them the buffer between the large corporations and the people who are being exploited; 

6) forcing farmers and the agricultural sector to over utilize resources causing long-term environment destruction; 

7) guaranteeing failure by loaning too little, too late with too many strings attached;

 8) make farmers reduce biodiversity, rendering the germ plasm of the world into the hands of a few transnational agribusiness firms who, by using genetic engineering can manipulate the food supply of the world at will, and finally 

9) pull the rug from beneath the artificial system that the people have been made dependent on and blame the victims for their own demise. 

10) Debt is SLAVERY. Grant states that “I invite all to join BFAA and other supporters on May 8, 2000,10:00 a.m. in front of the USDA building on Independence Ave. as we bring our message back to Glickman and USDA that over 40% denial rate is not acceptable." For more information about the May 8th rally call Gary Grant at(252)826-2800 or email: tillery@aol.com

Dr. Ridgely fights for Justice!                                  Dick Gregory on Scene