Drive to lift up Illinois’ Black farmers

Sonya Harper
State Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) chairs the Illinois House Agriculture Committee. (Photo courtesy

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – When you think of a farmer, you probably don’t think of a Black person. And you’d be right.

State Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), a Black woman, chairs the Illinois House Agriculture Committee. “In 1920, Illinois had 892 Black farmers. As of the 2017 USDA agricultural census, there are 188 individually Black-owned farms,” she said at a statehouse news conference. ”As agriculture is the largest job-producing industry in the state, and as farming has become big business, it has also become one of the least diverse industries in the state.”

She wants, among other things, a $5 million dollar grant program for socially disadvantaged farmers.

Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]


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