Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SR0220
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Full Text of SR0220  103rd General Assembly




SR0220LRB103 32066 MST 61002 r


2    WHEREAS, Farming as a family-owned and independent
3business has been an important part of the social and economic
4development of Illinois and the United States; and
5    WHEREAS, Black farmers in America have had a long struggle
6to own land and operate independently; for more than a century
7after emancipation and the ratification of the 13th Amendment
8that abolished slavery, various economic and social barriers
9were discriminatorily applied towards Black farmers, and the
10few existing civil rights laws were rarely enforced; and
11    WHEREAS, Pembroke Township, founded by self-emancipated,
12escaped enslaved people, was once home to the largest
13community of Black farmers in the north; and
14    WHEREAS, In 1920, Illinois had 892 Black farmers, and
15African Americans owned 14 percent of the nation's farmland;
17    WHEREAS, According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
18National Statistics Service, as of April 2019, Illinois had
1972,000 farms, covering 27 million acres, which is
20approximately 75% of the State's total land area; and



SR0220- 2 -LRB103 32066 MST 61002 r

1    WHEREAS, As of the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census, there
2were 188 individually Black-owned farms, which are a combined
340,412 acres; out of the 116,417 agricultural producers in
4Illinois, 267 are Black; and
5    WHEREAS, As farming has become a big business, it has
6become one of the least diverse business sectors in our State,
7and the pressure to consolidate has reduced the ranks of
8family and independent farmers for the past century; and
9    WHEREAS, The scarcity of African American farmers stems
10from the troubled history of the U.S.; for sharecroppers,
11farming was associated with the poverty and the backbreaking
12labor of slavery; for those who owned land, unequal treatment
13made it difficult to retain property and earn a living, and
14racial discrimination played a major role in driving Black
15farmers off of their land; as recently as the mid-1990s, Black
16farmers who agreed to sell crops would routinely be offered
17lower prices at market than white farmers for equivalent
18products; and
19    WHEREAS, In a landmark legal settlement, the U.S.
20Department of Agriculture acknowledged that it had abused
21Black farmers for generations when agents approved only a
22fraction of financing requests, delayed loans until after the
23planting season, and withheld other key payments; and



SR0220- 3 -LRB103 32066 MST 61002 r

1    WHEREAS, Movements in Illinois and across the country have
2fought to rectify historic discrimination against Black
3farmers and to develop interest in farming in young people and
4have worked to innovate in the farming space, including the
5development of Black-oriented urban agriculture, vertical
6farming, and microfarms in order to deliver fresher and
7healthier foods to communities and consumers in need of better
8food choices; and
9    WHEREAS, Black farmers can play a leading role in building
10local healthy food systems and creating regional networks of
11jobs, food, agricultural goods, and related opportunities;
12therefore, be it
14ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we declare April 23
15through April 29, 2023 as Black Farmers Week in the State of
16Illinois; and be it further
17    RESOLVED, That we encourage the people of Illinois and
18their representatives in government to learn about the history
19of Black farming communities and the contributions made by
20African Americans to agriculture in the United States; and be
21it further



SR0220- 4 -LRB103 32066 MST 61002 r

1    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
2presented to the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the
3National Black Farmers Association.