Ezra David Romero | Valley Public Radio
A bill unanimously approved by the Assembly Agricultural Committee Wednesday could significantly alter the way the California Department of Food and Agriculture works with farmers of color.
The Farmer Equity Act would support minority farmers by adding them to the definition for “Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers” in existing California Food and Agriculture code.
Krystin Leach is a Korean grower who runs a small vegetable farm in Alameda County. She says the bill gives farmers of color that’ve been subject to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice a larger say in California agriculture.
“There are disproportionate outcomes in who accesses state funding and who’s able to collaborate with CDFA as it exists," Leach says. "Those barriers play out in terms of who gets to own land versus who kind of remains tenant farmers for most of their careers.”
The bill’s authors say farmers of color earn less money on average and receive 36 percent less in government funding than their white counterparts.
If it passes, the bill would require the CDFA include socially disadvantaged farmers in all the steps of creating programs and policies, and would require the CDFA to hire an employee to work with disadvantaged farmers.
The Farmer Equity Act now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.