Congressman Bishop speaks to Georgia farmers; discusses new “Farm Bill”

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop spoke at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives conference Friday

ALBANY, GA- Georgia’s longest serving member of congress, Sanford D. Bishop, spoke too a packed crowd of farmers Friday afternoon.

This appearance was made at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund annual conference. Where farmers and other federation members were able to listen and ask the Congressman questions regarding his plans in assisting minority farmers.

“I want you to know your labor is not in vain. you are truly making a difference as you have over the years” Bishop preached.

For over five decades the Federation has provided education and technical assistance to thousands oof Heirs land property owners across the South. With the goal of reversing the trend of black land loss and brining equity to minority farmers.

On Friday, Bishop spoke on then many issues and disadvantages black and other minority farmers have experienced of the last hundreds of years.

Montezuma pecan farmers, Robert Smith, says the largest deficit he has faced has been financial issues.

“Most black farmers don’t have money to farm with, spray their crop, filtrate or harvest their crop” Smith says. “I”m a pecan farmer and I’m trying to get enough money so I can get my pecan shaker, harvester and all of my tractor stuff I need to farm with.”

According to the Federation’s website black land ownership peaked in 1910 at 16 to 19 million acres. However, it has now decreased to less than 3 million acres today. This decrease can be due to many things such as climate change and other political/historical issues, but none more notable than heirs’ property.

To help with these many deficits, Bishop has worked with others in congress to pass multiple bills benefitting black and minority farmers.

“Through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the house agriculture committee authorized 1 billion dollars to support farmers of color, but the inflation reduction act we passed in November of 2021, increased that funding from 1 billion to 2.8 billion..”

He further explained that $125 million will be given to organizations that provide technical assistance, farmer advocacy and farm business development. As well as arm, tax, financial, land access and marketing planning or assistance for minority and underserved farmers.

“That $125 million includes 75 million that has already been distributed to the federation of soother cooperatives and 19 other groups selected for their proven track record working with underserved producer communities” says Bishop.

The congressman also says both Republicans and Democrats have been supportive of the upcoming Farm Bill, which his a 5 year blue print for farmers in rural communities.

“Republicans, democrats and independents are all supportive of passing the Farm Bill this year before it expires September 30th… that is a big master plan which will ensure the safety and future of our capacity to take care of our rural communities and to take care of the nutritional and other needs of our country.”

Smith explains he appreciates Bishop’s efforts in allowing black farmers like himself be seen and their needs be taken fully into consideration.

He says “The best thing about Sanford Bishop and all of them, they’re making it work, so the black farmers are getting some of the stuff they need. so we appreciate them a million and one times.”