Two Biden Priorities, Climate and Inequality, Meet on Black-Owned Farms

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Nadja Popovich


The administration has pledged to make agriculture a cornerstone of its plan to fight warming, but also to tackle a legacy of discrimination that has pushed Black farmers off the land.


Sedrick Rowe was a running back for Georgia’s Fort Valley State University when he stumbled on an unexpected oasis: an organic farm on the grounds of the historically Black school.


He now grows organic peanuts on two tiny plots in southwest Georgia, one of few African-American farmers in a state that has lost more than 98 percent of its Black farmers over the past century.


“It weighs on my mind,” he said of the history of discrimination, and violence, that drove so many of his predecessors from their farms. “Growing our own food feels like the first step in getting more African-American people back into farming.”


Two of the Biden administration’s biggest priorities — addressing racial inequality and fighting climate change — are converging in the lives of farmers like Mr. Rowe.


The administration has promised to make agriculture a cornerstone of its ambitious climate agenda, looking to farmers to take up farming methods that could keep planet-warming carbon dioxide locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere. At the same time, President Biden has pledged to tackle a legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of Black Americans from their farms, with steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to land, loans and other assistance, including “climate smart” production.