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Cultivating Change: The Inspiring Impact of the 2024 South Carolina Black Farmers Coalition Conference

Building a Supportive Community for Black Farmers

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5 mins read

(St. Helena Island, SC) – The annual South Carolina Black Farmers Coalition Conference (SCBFCC) is not just a gathering; it’s a family reunion of solidarity, empowerment, and resilience for black farmers across the state. Attending this year’s conference at the Historic Penn Center was more than just a privilege—it was a transformative experience that underscored the vital importance of the SCBFC’s mission.

From the moment I stepped onto the historic campus of Penn Center on St. Helena Island, I could sense the weight of history and the spirit of resilience that permeated the air. It was a fitting location for an event dedicated to uplifting black farmers who have historically faced discrimination and adversity in the agricultural sector. Surrounded by the echoes of the past, it was as if the ancestors themselves were cheering on the efforts of the SCBFC to right the wrongs of the past and pave the way for a brighter future.

Throughout the conference, it became abundantly clear that the SCBFC is not just an organization; it’s a lifeline for black farmers. President Daryl Orage’s passion and dedication were palpable as he spoke about the coalition’s tireless efforts to assist black farmers in applying for and accessing support through initiatives like the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program (DFAP) and the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA), sponsored through the USDA. These programs not only provide much-needed financial assistance but also serve as a form of reparations for the injustices of the past.

The workshops, clinics, and roundtable sessions offered during the conference were invaluable, providing practical skills, resources, and networking opportunities for both new and established black farmers. From farm business and marketing to risk management and succession planning, attendees gained essential knowledge to help them thrive in an often challenging industry. Moreover, the presence of subject matter experts from organizations like the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education and the USDA Farm Service Agency underscored the broader support network available to black farmers.

(From Left to Right) Derick Muhammad, Leon Dorch, Cecelia Miller, and Elise Ashby.

The highlight of the conference was undoubtedly the awards banquet, where individuals like Leon Dorch, who was presented with the Young Farmer of the Year award, Cecelia Miller, who received the President’s Award, Elise Ashby, honored with the Woman Farmer of the Year award, and Derick Muhammad, who was presented with the Connector Award, were recognized for their outstanding contributions to agriculture and their communities. Their stories were powerful reminders of the resilience, innovation, and determination that define black farmers in South Carolina.

Jacky ‘Barefoot’ Frazier of Barefoot Farms

As I reflect on my time at the SCBFCC, I am filled with a sense of inspiration and optimism for the future of black farming in South Carolina. The SCBFC’s commitment to training, equipping, supporting, and advocating for black farmers is not only commendable but essential for the long-term sustainability of agriculture in the state. By providing access to resources, fostering community, and challenging systemic barriers, the SCBFC is not just cultivating crops; it’s cultivating change.

In conclusion, the SCBFCC is more than just a conference; it’s a movement—a movement towards equity, justice, and empowerment in agriculture. As members of the Black community of South Carolina, it is imperative that we rally behind and support the mission of the SCBFC. By supporting this organization, we affirm our commitment to rectifying historical injustices and ensuring that black farmers have the resources and opportunities they deserve. Together, we can sow the seeds of change and cultivate a future where all farmers, irrespective of race or background, have the opportunity to flourish and contribute to the prosperity of our agricultural landscape.

Michael Bailey, a trailblazer in the field of photojournalism and a profound political writer, possesses the exceptional ability to distill complex political issues into accessible narratives that resonate with readers of all backgrounds. As the vanguard of the editorial team, Michael not only serves as a new media correspondent but also showcases his distinct talent as a photojournalist. His portfolio is a testament to his expertise in crafting news stories and intimate profiles that vividly portray the cultural, social, economic, and political journeys of minorities, both in South Carolina and beyond. With a rich tapestry of experience spanning media, business, and politics, Michael has emerged as a highly regarded voice and a sought-after commentator, offering invaluable insights into the challenges faced by people of color.

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