In 2022, NMSDC and Cargill launched a new program to advance agricultural supply chain access for Black farmers. According to McKinsey & Company, today just 1.4% of farmers identify as Black or mixed race compared with about 14% a century ago. Furthermore, these farmers represent less than 0.5% of total U.S. farm sales. Perhaps, even more disturbing, Black farmers operate at 70% of US peer-level farm revenue. Because of this extreme inequity in the U.S. agricultural industry and thanks to the support from Cargill, we launched the Black Farmers Equity Initiative. This collaborative initiative aimed to create a pathway for emerging Black farmers to achieve parity in the agriculture industry with learning solutions, certification, lending, networking, and new contracts.
After an exciting first year, Walmart, Cargill, and UNFI supported the expansion of the program, now called Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture. The expanded program looks to develop more farmers on an annual basis and consists of two elements: a learning program and strategic business support. Express interest in the program for the next cohort.
Program participants complete a 12-week learning curriculum focused on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with corporate members. Topics covered in this program include:
- Getting certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE) and how it can open opportunities for Black farmers.
- Accessing capital, getting capital ready, and leveraging micro-loans.
- Addressing issues of growth such as storage, putting acreage into production and equipment management.
- Building negotiation skills.
- Developing a plan for and managing growth.
- Reviewing opportunities and challenges shared by corporate members.
Strategic Business Support
- Being connected through a customized online learning community so they can network and build relationships with each other.
- Receiving assistance in completing the certification process with NMSDC, with certification fees covered by this program.
- Having the opportunity to apply for growth-oriented micro-loans through a Business Consortium Fund opportunity specifically for farmers in the program.
- Participating in mentoring and matchmaking sessions with participating corporate members assisting to create direct relationship-building and contract opportunities.
- Mentoring will focus on navigating the procurement process and responding effectively to requests for proposals.