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Black Farmer Fund is closing the racial wealth gap in agriculture

by Michelle DiMuzio, Slow Food USA editorial intern

“If you eat food, you are part of our ecosystem,” stated Onika Abraham, Black Farmer Fund Board Member and moderator of the Black Farmer Fund Panel. Black Farmer Fund (BFF) is an emerging community investment fund and 501(c)(3) that invests in Black food systems entrepreneurs in New York State.

Olivia Watkins, President, and Melanie Allen, Program Director, explained the ecosystem Black Farmer Fund is creating, focusing on financial education, collective governance, and decision-making towards a sustainable future. This includes creating networks of diverse Black food actors from all over New York State, uplifting different talents and areas of expertise.

However, there is still a significant racial wealth gap within the agriculture sector. In New York State, the average net income of a White farmer is $42,000, while for a Black farmer, it is -$900. “There isn’t just one gap that has historically left Black farmers or Black food entrepreneurs from succeeding, it’s multiple gaps,” shared Melanie. “BFF is trying to unlearn a lot of the traditional funding vehicle practices and do it in a new way. We shouldn’t be approaching funding from a mindset of scarcity – we have all that we need and when we are working together, it’s so much stronger.”

While the panelists encouraged the attendees to use our power as eaters and voters, they also emphasized that not everyone has the same access to food or the same power.

Check out blackfarmerfund.org for more resources and information on ways to support their initiatives.