Black Farmers in Agriculture

February is Black History month, so it got me thinking and interested in learning more about the history of black people and their involvement with agriculture. I was able to dig up some interesting facts and discovered that black people have made some significant contributions to the history of agriculture and their inventions still have impacts on how things are done today. In addition to learning about some great innovators I also learned a lot about the struggles that black farmers still face in today’s society.

An agriculture census performed in 2012 revealed that black farmers make up 1.4 percent (44,629 black farm operators) of the United States 3.2 million farmers, which was a 12% increase from the previous 5 years. Ninety percent of the black farmers live in twelve southern states. [1] Texas has more black farmers that any other state, the black farmers in Texas account for 3% of the farmers in Texas. The top commodity produced by black principal operators is beef cattle, which accounts for nearly half of the black farm operations.

Henry Blair was born a free man in 1807, he was the second African American to be issued a United States patent. [2] Mr. Blair was a successful farmer and the two inventions he patented was a corn planter and a cotton planter. Both of these inventions helped to increase efficiency by limiting the amount of labor and time needed on the farm.

George Washington Carver was an educator at Tuskegee University and he wanted to learn about revitalizing southern soil that had been stripped by cotton. Cotton is a nitrogen depleting crop, Mr. Carver developed a crop rotation method that rotated the cotton crop with legumes and other corps such as corn that helped fix the nitrogen loss. By rotating these crops, not only did it help improve the soil it gave southern farmers additional produce they could sell beside the cotton. [3]

Frederick McKinley Jones created an invention that is still used daily in the agriculture world, the refrigerated truck. In 1940 Mr. Jones patented a refrigeration system and he became the co-owner of the company Thermo King[4]. Due to Mr. Jones invention, perishable foods could now be shipped to further distances, his invention was eventually added to trucks, boats, planes and boxcars, which now allows fresh seasonal produce to be enjoyed around the world throughout the entire year.

John W. Boyd Jr. is a farmer from Virginia, Mr. Boyd has become a leader in campaigning for civil rights for the black farmer. In 1995 Boyd founded the National Black Farmers Association[5] after he had talked with many other black farmers who all had shared similar stories of discrimination. Mr. Boyd continues to advocate for minorities rights and you can read more about his story and his work at https://www.johnboydjr.com/about

Additionally for more information about what black people are doing in the agriculture community head on over to https://blackfarmersnetwork.com – there you will find a wealth of information about what black farmers are doing today, and also you can read about the struggles that the black farm owner still faces in today’s society and how they are working hard to combat racial inequality.


[1] https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights/2014/Highlights_Black_Farmers.pdf

[2] https://www.farmproject.org/blog/2017/2/4/hikqys8igvv0bo368aco3mrb1rv7d1

[3] https://www.farmproject.org/blog/2017/2/4/hikqys8igvv0bo368aco3mrb1rv7d1

[4] https://www.farmproject.org/blog/2017/2/4/hikqys8igvv0bo368aco3mrb1rv7d1

[5] https://www.agdaily.com/lifestyle/black-history-month-african-americans-farming/

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