Monsanto’s Black America’s Farmers BillboardPosted: January 22, 2012
I see this billboard on I-80 just east of the West Branch exit, and every time I do, it pisses me off. And not just because most everything that Monsanto does pisses me off. No, what upsets me is the co-opting of a black farmer for Monsanto’s propaganda campaign. There are two big issues here. First, just five years ago a major association of black farmers publicly spoke out against Monsanto. Second, the billboard suggests some sort of racial equality when it comes to farming, and of course no such thing exists.
National Black Farmers Association Protests Monsanto Merger from FarmProgress, Jan. 10, 2007
The proposed merger between Monsanto and Delta Pine & Land would create a “virtual monopoly” in the U.S. cotton industry, National Black Farmers Association President John W. Boyd, Jr. claims in a letter to Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
The National Black Farmers Association has 66,000 U.S. members.
While I realize that like any group, the NBFA doesn’t speak for all black farmers, and likely doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of all its members, it doesn’t seem right for me for Monsanto to seemingly attempt to co-opt the experiences of farmers of color.
I’m no fan of trying to suggest diversity in cases where little diversity actually exists. And certainly there is little racial diversity amongst farmers in Iowa. Indeed, the African American Museum of Iowa estimates that only a few dozen African Americans farm in this state. However, I can see the need to offer role models to youth who might be interested in going into agriculture. That said, the fact that African Americans have been systematically driven out of farming in the past, suggests a reality in which the prospects for aspiring farmers of color are dim.
Judge approves historic settlement for black farmers from CNN, Oct. 28, 2011
Tens of thousands of American farmers who suffered racial discrimination by the U.S. Agriculture Department in the 1980s and ’90s may start getting compensation from a $1.25 billion settlement, a federal judge has ruled.