Illinois takes steps to increase support for Black Farmers
In a step forward for Illinois’ Black Farmers and Growers, the Illinois House passed a resolution (HR0164) declaring April 23rd – 29th Black Farmers and Growers week. Additionally, they passed HJR6 which creates a commission to study the impact of Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property laws on Black farmers.
Representative Sonya Harper, a CROP member and longtime champion for Black farmer equity in Illinois championed the bills. Rep. Harper worked with Black farmers, community advocates and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, to organize the first ever Black Farmer and Grower Lobby Day in Illinois held April 26th 2023. The lobby day helped bring attention to the bills to get them over the finish line.
In response to these wins, Rep. Harper said “I enjoy helping to amplify the voices of farmers, especially socially disadvantaged farmers. When we help them, we help to eliminate food deserts and help create local healthy food systems for everyone. These two pieces of legislation allow us to take a closer look at some of the major barriers keeping us from improving our local food supply and ensuring healthy food access for all.”
Though much still needs to be done to ensure greater equity for Black farmers and the historical and ongoing discrimination they experience, the 2023 session marked a significant step forward in acknowledging and addressing the harms Black farmers experience.
Rep. Harper has pledged to continue working with advocates and Black farmers in coalition to further equity for Black farmers and growers in Illinois through policy and advocacy.
Learn more about working to Champion Farmer Equity and Justice for Black Farmers and check out our new communications toolkit Growing Equitable Food Systems