– Analysis by Traci Bruckner, SAFSF Policy Program Director –
The unjust and egregious murder of George Floyd is awakening a national dialogue and movement to dismantle structural racism. It is time, no more excuses. We – me, you, SAFSF, philanthropy – must commit to be advocates for change, allies to all communities, and accomplices in dismantling racism.
We must reckon with the fact that the creation and growth of our agriculture and food system in this country is inextricably linked to structural racism. White agricultural wealth has its roots in land stolen from Native people. Its growth has been fueled by labor stolen from African and African-American people, and continued exploitation of farm and food workers of Asian, Hispanic and other immigrant backgrounds. One reason it’s difficult for some people to see this today is because those in power wrote policy that legitimized these crimes. The impacts of structural racism and economic inequities in our agriculture and food policy continue today.
Last year, we saw how inequities built into the system resulted in all of the “trade aid” farm payments flowing to white farmers, and the largest and wealthiest of white farmers to boot. Pandemic response aid for farmers will double down on that approach, with this same strata of agricultural business getting a new round of multi-million dollar payments, while farmers of color and small farmers of all colors receive little if any aid. These examples represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how federal agriculture and food policy upholds racial and economic inequity. (Dig a little deeper here.)
We are committed to building member engagement and our collective voice to combat the effects of structural racism and inequity in food and agricultural policy. We will use our voice and our platform to educate, inform and shape policy discussions, as well as influence other organizations who engage in policy. Following our recent COVID-19 regional calls in partnership with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), and our sharing the SAFSF Commitment to Racial Equity, we were encouraged that NASDA released their own statement on systemic racism, a move that surprised many long-time NASDA observers. You can expect SAFSF to continue and to expand this type of engagement. Indeed, you should expect nothing less.
Traci Bruckner, SAFSF Policy Program Director, provides insights into key policy issues for funders of sustainable agriculture and food systems in the monthly Policy Connection newsletter for SAFSF members.