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Igalious “Ike” Mills distributes clumps of hay around a pasture on his farm in Nacogdoches on Dec. 28, 2021. Some cows hoard hay, and it’s important to Mills that it is distributed equally.  Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. Mills is dedicated to reversing this trend. He works as the director of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs.

Black Texas farmers were finally on track to get federal aid. The state’s agriculture commissioner wants to stop that.

Sid Miller is challenging a debt relief program that the U.S. Department of Agriculture saw as a way to correct historic discrimination. An advocate for Black Texas farmers says the challenge “pushes us back even further.”

Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller speaks to protestors gathered at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin on Oct. 10, 2020 in protest of Gov. Abbott’s executive orders closing businesses and mandating masks.
Roy Mills drives a tractor loaded with hay around a pasture, as his brother, Igalious “Ike” Mills walks behind him, distributing the hay in clumps so that each cow can get their fair share of hay on their farm in Nacogdoches on Dec. 28, 2021. Some cows hoard hay, and it’s important to the Mills brothers that it is distributed equally.  Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. The Mills brothers are dedicated to reversing this trend. Ike works as the director and Roy serves as program coordinator of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs.

History of discrimination, mistrust

Roy Mills drives a tractor loaded with hay around a pasture, as his brother, Igalious “Ike” Mills walks behind him, distributing the hay to cows on their farm in Nacogdoches on Dec. 28, 2021. Some cows hoard hay, and it’s important to the Mills brothers that it is distributed equally.  Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. The Mills brothers are dedicated to reversing this trend. Ike works as the director and Roy serves as program coordinator of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs.
Igalious “Ike” Mills and his brother, Roy Mills distribute clumps of hay around a pasture so that each cow can get their fair share of hay on their farm in Nacogdoches on Dec. 28, 2021. Some cows hoard hay, and it’s important to the Mills brothers that it is distributed equally. Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. The Mills brothers are dedicated to reversing this trend. Ike works as the director and Roy serves as program coordinator of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs.

Previous attempts at redress

Fostering connections

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - DECEMBER 28, 2021:  Igalious “Ike” Mills and his brother, Roy Mills feed the cows at their East Texas farm that has been in their family for three generations. Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. The Mills brothers are dedicated to reversing this trend. Ike works as the director and Roy serves as program coordinator of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs. PHOTO: Meridith Kohut for The Texas Tribune

Black farming’s present and future

Igalious “Ike” Mills distributes clumps of hay for cows on his farm in Nacogdoches on Dec. 28, 2021. Some cows hoard hay, and it’s important to Mills that it is distributed equally. Nationally, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, due to biased government policies and discriminatory business practices. At their peak in 1920, there were over 925,000 Black farmers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But by 2017, their numbers had fallen to just under 18,500. Mills is dedicated to reversing this trend. He works as the director of the Nacogdoches-based Texas Agriforestry Small Farmers and Ranchers, an organization that helps connect Black farmers with state and federal programs.

Miller v. Vilsack

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