Black Farmers Say Loans Still Hard to Get

Shreveport Times, February 2, 2012

Even after a court settlement ordering the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay black farmers for past discrimination and to offer more loans, black farmers said Thursday that they still can’t borrow money.

Farmers from around the state gathered at the Lafayette Hilton to hear USDA officials, attorneys and national black farmer groups discuss what’s being done to try to alleviate the problems.

Raymond Jones, who raises potatoes and corn on a small farm in Avoyelles Parish, said he and other black farmers in central Louisiana have problems with banks.

“You go in to get some money and the banks in my area have a map of the city and communities where people live,” he said. The maps are color-coded as to the race and economic status of residents in the communities.

“If you’re from a black area, you flat out won’t get a loan. If you’re from the green area, it’s because you’ve got a great job and money in the bank. You’ll get a loan. It’s been going on for years and it’s not going to change,” Jones said.

State Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, organizer of the black farmer segment of a Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus issues retreat, said loan denial is “one of the largest discriminatory issues since we got started with civil rights.”

Peter Williams, president of the Louisiana Black Farmers Association, said “the reason loans are being denied is not the FSA (Farm Service Agency of USDA). It’s the banks. They want our land. If they don’t make loans,” farmers can’t raise crops, “and they get our land. Loans are being denied because there’s a system that wants what you have.”

{snip}

Jerilyn Bowie-Hill, of Lafayette, a retired UL-Lafayette business law and marketing professor whose family has farmed property in Grant Parish since the Civil War, said the state should commission a study to identify black farmers in Louisiana and what they grow. That information could be used to develop a marketing plan.

The plan could answer, “How do I market for maximum profit for my family and the state of Louisiana that will collect taxes on what we produce?” she said.

Bowie-Hill said most black farmers, “like my father (Jesse Bowie Jr.), had many negative experiences trying to get loans. His policy was to borrow only when he had to protect his family. That’s how we have been able to hold our land.”

{snip}

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  • “You go in to get some money and the banks in my area have a map of
    the city and communities where people live,” he said. The maps are
    color-coded as to the race and economic status of residents in the
    communities.  “If you’re from a black area, you flat out won’t get a loan. If
    you’re from the green area, it’s because you’ve got a great job and
    money in the bank. You’ll get a loan. It’s been going on for years and
    it’s not going to change,” Jones said.

    Curiously, they’re not making the accusation that blacks aren’t getting the loans because they’re black, they’re saying that if you’re from a heavily black area, you won’t get a loan.  Are we to come away thinking that whites from a black area also aren’t getting loans?

    • Yes, you are supposed to get that impression exactly. Old systems of reason and logic don’t always agree with the contemporary outlook of “social justice”.

  • When you feed a bear, they keep coming back for more because it is easier then working for their food themselves. Blacks long ago figured  out  it’s easier to sue the govt. than to work, or farm.

  • ” Peter Williams, president of the Louisiana Black Farmers Association,
    said “the reason loans are being denied is not the FSA (Farm Service
    Agency of USDA). It’s the banks. They want our land. If they don’t make
    loans,” farmers can’t raise crops, “and they get our land. Loans are
    being denied because there’s a system that wants what you have.”

    So what this guy is saying is that banks really want to become farmers? yeah that’s it! then they could turn all their branch offices into vegetable markets.

    If this guy is the president of the Louisiana Black Farmers Association, then it’s obvious as to why banks won’t give them loans, not a good business practice to give loans to really dumb people

    • Anonymous

      Then there’s the fact that if they actually own the land it’s perfect collateral for a loan.

  • Oil Can Harry

    Choice 1: A bank refuses to give a loan to a black with bad credit and gets sued for “redlining”.

    Choice 2: A bank agrees to give a loan to a black with bad credit and gets sued for “predatory lending”. 

  • Anonymous

    Honestly,has anyone here ever seen a black farmer? I havent.Even black farm hands are rare these days.Black farmers? Really?

  • Anonymous

     no such thing as a black farmer…they are too disposed to being lazy to even contemplate farming for a living. easier to sue and claim discrimination at every turn than to actually plant a crop….the hot sun and long hours are for white people…they need the tan anyways. Ha Ha.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve applied for and received loans for things as wide as college, cars, and my home without ever coming into contact with a human being representing the lending agency.  When we bought our house we didn’t interact with a flesh-and-blood representative of the lending agency until the paperwork was already drawn up and needed my John Hancock.

    So…is it my White skin that’s got the bankers throwing money at me, or is it my credit score in excess of 700?

    Do they think a credit score unlocks magic like a medical degree does?

    I’ve known a few Black folks who have no trouble getting loans for anything.  Its because they’re among the few that pay their bills.

  • Anonymous

    To get a farm loan, one has to be a farmer, or at least should be, and growing pot in you back yard doesn’t count.

  • Anonymous

    “If you’re from a black area, you flat out won’t get a loan. If you’re from the green area, it’s because you’ve got a great job and money in the bank. You’ll get a loan. It’s been going on for years and it’s not going to change,” Jones said.

    “…the state should commission a study to identify black farmers in Louisiana and what they grow. That information could be used to develop a marketing plan.”

    People with money get loans because they’ve proven they’re responsible with money.

    Why does the state need to do a study to identify black farmers, what they grow, and how to market their products?

    If you’re a farmer or plan to become a farmer, you should know what the market wants and you should know how and where to sell your product. That’s Business 101.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like the “black farmers” are heading back to the  trough.  It started with 400 “black farmers” suing for discrimination  in the case of Pigford v. Glickman against the  USDA.   
    They won and they each  got $50,00.   That worked so well that another class action lawsuit was filed involving 86,000 “black farmer s”.  That number of “black farmers” far exceeded the actual number of legitimate black farmers.   However, they were awarded over a billion dollars.  That also worked so well that still other “black farmers” again sought funds from the federal government because they, also, had been “discriminated against” .   However, the “black farmers”  had gone to well so many times that it took Senator Barak Obama’s  help  to  again score  additional millions from the federal government which many  justified  as reprations.

    It now looks like the “black farmers” are trying to get back to the trough.

  • R P

    Raymond Jones, who raises potatoes and corn on a small farm in Avoyelles Parish, said he and other black farmers in central Louisiana have problems with banks.

    What doesn’t sound right about this?

    Commercially farming corn and potatoes in Louisanna?

    On a small farm?

    This sounds more like a backyard garden.

  • I have encountered a few. Most of them grew an indoor crop with a five-pointed leaf of deep green.

    Wait nevermind, those are “growers”.