Black farmers meet in Memphis to reverse disturbing trend

Farms owned by African Americans continue to disappear at an alarming rate. This week, black farmers from around the country are meeting in Memphis to work on ways to reverse that disturbing trend.

Conference organizer Dr. Clenora Hudson Weems said for every black farmer still in business, thousands more have been forced off of their land.

"Because we are losing 9,000 acres per week," Weems said. "That's a lot of land."

Weems invited farmers from around the country to Memphis for the conference, aimed at stopping the drastic erosion of land owned by blacks.

Willena Scott-White said her family lost hundreds of acres of prime Mississippi farmland after discrimination at the USDA forced her father into foreclosure.

"It was a systematic discrimination that took place historically in rural areas.," she said. "Take the name of any black farmer almost anywhere in the United States and the scenario is the same."

This conference is aimed at drawing attention and support for the plight of black land owners who have lost their land through documented discrimination by USDA officials and by private developers.

Lawrence Lucas, president of the USDA's coalition of minority employees, said the solution is for black land owners is to get more active politically, and cooperate to raise small tomatoes and other crops that are more profitable.