Around the Federation | May 2022 E-NEWSLETTER
Did You Know?
In 1910, there were roughly 218,000 Black farmers owning about 15 million acres of land. By the turn of the century the US Census updated its numbers to reflect 18,000 Black farmers owned roughly 2.3 million acres of land. Today, according to NASS, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, there are about 33,000 Black farmers, identified as principal operators who own a little less than 4 million acres of land. 

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund has supported Black farmers, landowners, and cooperatives across the Southern region through self-empowerment initiatives to gain access to credit, obtain technical assistance, navigate USDA programs, hold onto their land and form cooperatives in order to build wealth.

In this month's edition of Around the Federation, our monthly newsletter, you will find highlights of our members, accomplishments, upcoming events, programs and more.
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund's Legal Intern Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities has Expanded!

We are excited to announce this summer the Federation will be partnering with 2 new Historically Black Colleges and Universities for legal interns. In addition to obtaining legal interns from Southern University, this year we have also added interns from North Carolina Central University and Texas Southern University.

Our partner, John Deere, is funding the four legal interns from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to work with the Federation to help eliminate barriers created by Heirs Property and provide resources to advance the lives and livelihoods of Black farmers. The interns will work under the direction of the Federation's Director of Land Retention and Advocacy and legal fellows.

Heirs' Property is land jointly owned by descendants of someone who didn't leave a legal will, thereby leaving them without a clear title. The land is passed to surviving family members by way of fractional ownership—meaning any heir can divide or sell the land. Heirs' property issues serve as the leading cause of involuntary land loss among Black landowners.
Deneen Hodge is a year-three law student at Southern University Law Center (SULC). She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in criminal justice with a concentration in pre-law in 2016. After graduating, Hodge spent four years working as a paralegal and legal assistant at law firms that specialized in criminal law, personal injury, and employment law building her skills before becoming a law school student in 2020. Deneen will be working out of the Federation's Atlanta office.

Kendall Rankin is a second-year law student at North Carolina Central University. Kendall received his Master of Public Administration and BA in Political Science from
Appalachian State University. He has experience working with rural communities in the Appalachian region and underserved communities in Louisiana. His passion of serving these communities has been shown through numerous leadership positions in various advocacy-based organizations. Kendall will be working out of the Federation's Atlanta office.

Frank Achonye is a year-three law student at Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law. From a young age, he was interested in law, politics, and justice. Achonye attended the University of Texas at Austin where he studied government and African American studies. Frank will be working out of the Federation's Florida office.

Kaila Washington is a second-year law student at Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where she serves as press secretary for the Student Bar Association. Prior to embarking on her law journey, she attended the University of Alabama, where she majored in marketing and advertising. This is where it became clear to her that representation is crucial, and the way she was going to impact the world is through advocating. Kaila will be working out of the Federation's Texas office.
The Federation Fellows is a 1-year legal fellowship to provide outreach, education, mediation, title clearing and estate planning legal services for FSC/LAF members, potential members, farmers and heirs' property owners.

We are excited to share we've hired 3 attorneys who will start soon:
  • Eric Hilton (Florida office)
  • Tamara Veal (Texas office)
  • Ebony Woodruff (Louisiana office)
The Federation proudly highlights the Greene/Sumter County Farmers' Market Cooperative located in Greene County, Alabama. The coop lies in the middle of a rich belt of prime, flat farmland. The Greene/Sumter County Farmers’ Market Cooperative was organized in January of 2003, by producers/growers of two western counties (Greene and Sumter) that united for a common cause – to market their products.

Our outreach team & interns have also been providing technical assistance to the Greene/Sumter County Farmers' Market Cooperative on growing watermelons to sell and market through SOCO, our regional cooperative marketing system. This initiative is part of the Federation’s coordinated regional effort with other member-coops that will result in over 300,000 watermelons grown using climate smart practices.
The membership desk assists with membership dues, renewals, assistance with joining, membership engagement, and events. Please direct your membership inquiries to:

Black farmers, landowners, and cooperatives click the link below to join.
Last month over 100 black farmers, landowners and individuals representing and/or interested in cooperatives joined us on zoom the 4th Annual Coop Symposium. We held a virtual discussion centered on the upcoming Farm Bill legislation and the participants identified their needs as cooperative businesses.

Cooperation among cooperatives is not just a principle or slogan that we live by, it also represents our strategy for competing with the agricultural entities that currently dominate the whole industry, making it harder for small farmers to survive.
Episode 5 of our podcast features a wonderful discussion about Farm Bill Advocacy, Allyship and so much more with Fran Miller, Senior Staff Attorney and Adjunct Professor and this episode's sponsor Center for Agriculture and Food Systems | Vermont Law School.
ARP Debt Relief Lawsuit Update
Since being admitted as a party to the federal lawsuit, Miller v. Vilsack, which is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The Federation is working with our legal team, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under LawPublic Counsel, and Winston & Strawn LLP, to collect statements from our members, farmers and ranchers of color, and white farmers regarding their experiences with FSA in the past 10-15 years.

If you would like to share your experiences with FSA as a part of this litigation, please contact Dãnia Davy at
Pigford Research Project Update
We are still seeking participants for the Pigford Research Project.
This ground-breaking research project will help tell the stories of successful Pigford claimants to our communities, allies and policymakers. Eligible participants must be successful Pigford Claimants or their descendants.

If you would like to share your story, please contact:

Research partner, Tauren Nelson 

Research partner, Sylvia Stewart

Research partner, Thomas Shapiro 
For more information about the Federation’s Pigford Research Project with the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity | The Heller School at Brandeis University please listen to Federation Conversation Episode 3
Save the Dates
June 20-24th, 2022

This summer campers will:
  • Explore the forest and learn all it has to offer
  • Receive an introduction to careers in natural resources
  • Build life & outdoor skills
  • Create meaningful connections

Registration Opens Soon
August 18-20th, 2022
Join us in celebrating 55 years of our work and progress in the development of the Federation as a cooperatively owned institution and the foremost organization serving Black farmers, landowners, and cooperatives across the South

Virtual component for those unable to attend in-person
more details to come...
Not a Black farmer, a landowner, or a cooperative and want to support our members?
Are you an organization, non-profit or individual who is interested in supporting our mission and vision? The Federation exists to be a catalyst for the development of self-supporting communities through cooperative economic development, land retention, and advocacy. We envision sustainable rural communities supported by a network of farmers, landowners, and cooperatives based on local control and ownership.