After a Century of Dispossession, Black Farmers Are Fighting to Get Back to the Land

In the decades before the Civil War, one of the South’s largest slave enterprises held sway on the northern outskirts of Durham, North Carolina. At its peak, about 900 enslaved people were compelled to grow tobacco, corn, and other crops on the Stagville Plantation, 30,000 acres of rolling piedmont that had been taken from the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Today, the area has a transitional feel: Old farmhouses, open fields, and pine forests cede ground to subdivisions, as one of America’s hottest real estate markets sprawls outward.

On a sunny winter afternoon, farmer and food-justice activist Tahz Walker greets me on a 48-acre patch of former Stagville property called the Earthseed Land Collective. Walker and a few friends pooled their resources and bought this parcel, he says, to experiment with collective living, and inspire “people of color to reimagine their relationship to land.” He leads me through the gate of the property’s Tierra Negra Farm, a 2-acre plot of vegetable rows, hoop houses, and a grassy patch teeming with busy hens. It’s one of several enterprises housed within the land collective, which also features a commercial worm-compost operation, a capoeira studio, and homes for several members, including the 1930s farmhouse where Walker lives with his wife and co-farmer, Cristina Rivera-Chapman, and their two kids. Tierra Negra markets its produce through a subscription veggie-box service that goes to 20 nearby families—including descendants of Stagville’s enslaved population—and supplies Communities in Partnership, a local nonprofit that brings affordable fresh food to historically Black, fast-gentrifying East Durham.

As it’s January, most of the rows are fallow. Walker points to a patch of bare ground that grew sweet potatoes the previous season. “It’s a variety that was grown by a Black

— source motherjones.com | Tom Philpott | May 2021

Nullius in verba


Advertisement

How Dhinkia & Nuagaon have fared different between 2 steel projects

In 2005, when the Odisha government signed an agreement with South Korean steelmaker Posco Intl Corp to set up its mega project, Dhinkia and Nuagaon — two of the eight affected villages near the port of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district — found themselves on the opposite sides. While Dhinkia opposed Posco, the leaders of Nuagaon supported it.

In 2017, Posco withdrew from the project and recently the Odisha government has renewed its land acquisition drive, but for another project by Jindal Steel Works (JSW) Ltd in the same area. The people of Dhinkia have continued their resistance to the JSW project while there is no support for it in Nuagaon either.

What has changed over the last decade?

“The people of Nuagaon suffered more economically by supporting Posco. They lost their betel vineyards to land acquisition, lost compensation money to chit fund companies and

— source downtoearth.org.in | Priya Ranjan Sahu | 18 Jan 2022

Nullius in verba


Conservation or Land Grab? The Financialization of Nature

Just in time for the UN’s policy push for “30 x 30” – 30% of the earth to be “conserved” by 2030 – a new Wall Street asset class puts up for sale the processes underpinning all life.

A month before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP26) kicked off in Scotland, a new asset class was launched by the New York Stock Exchange that will “open up a new feeding ground for predatory Wall Street banks and financial institutions that will allow them to dominate not just the human economy, but the entire natural world.” So writes Whitney Webb in an article titled “Wall Street’s Takeover of Nature Advances with Launch of New Asset Class”:

Called a natural asset company, or NAC, the vehicle will allow for the formation of specialized corporations “that hold the rights to the ecosystem services produced on a given chunk of land, services like carbon sequestration or clean water.” These NACs will then maintain, manage and grow the natural assets they commodify, with the end goal of maximizing the aspects of that natural asset that are deemed by the company to be profitable.

The vehicle is allegedly designed to preserve and restore Nature’s assets; but when Wall Street gets involved, profit and exploitation are not far behind. Webb writes:

[E]ven the creators of NACs admit that the ultimate goal is to extract near-infinite profits from the natural processes they seek to quantify and then monetize….

— source ellenbrown.com | Ellen Brown | Nov 5, 2021

Nullius in verba


Returning lands to Native tribes is helping protect nature

In 1908 the U.S. government seized some 18,000 acres of land from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to create the National Bison Range in the heart of their reservation in the mountain-ringed Mission Valley of western Montana.

While the goal of protecting the remnants of America’s once-plentiful bison was worthy, for the last century the federal facility has been a symbol to the tribes here of the injustices forced upon them by the government, and they have long fought to get the bison range returned.

Last December their patience paid off: President Donald Trump signed legislation that began the process of returning the range to the Salish and Kootenai.

Now the tribes are managing the range’s bison and are also helping, through co-management, to manage bison that leave Yellowstone National Park to graze on U.S. Forest Service land. Their Native American management approach is steeped in the close, almost familial, relationship with the animal that once provided food,

— source grist.org | Jim Robbins | Jun 12, 2021

Nullius in verba


Land inequality is rising in most countries

The report, Uneven Ground: land inequality at the heart of unequal societies, is the first of its kind, shedding new light on the scale and speed of this growing phenomenon and providing the most comprehensive picture available today. New measurements show that the top 10 percent of the rural population captures 60 percent of agricultural land value, while the bottom 50 percent of the rural populations only control 3 percent of land value.

The study finds that land inequality directly threatens the livelihoods of an estimated 2.5 billion people involved in smallholder agriculture, as well the world’s poorest 1.4 billion people, most of whom depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

— source landcoalition.org | Nov 24, 2020

Nullius in verba


In most countries, land inequality is growing

Worse, new measures and analysis published in this synthesis report show that land inequality is significantly higher than previously reported. This trend directly threatens the livelihoods of an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide involved in smallholder agriculture.

Land inequality is also central to many other forms of inequality related to wealth, power, gender, health, and environment and is fundamentally linked to contemporary global crises of democratic decline, climate change, global health security and pandemics, mass migration, unemployment, and intergenerational injustice. Beyond its direct effects on smallholder agriculture, it is clear that land inequality undermines stability and the development of sustainable societies, affecting all of us in almost every aspect of our lives.

Land is a common good, providing water, food, and natural resources that sustain all life. It is the guarantor of biodiversity, health, resilience, and equitable and sustainable livelihoods. It is immovable, non-renewable, and inextricably connected to people and societies. How we manage and control land has shaped our economies, political structures, communities, cultures, and beliefs for thousands of years.

Despite the centrality of land inequality to so many global challenges, and despite global recognition

— source landcoalition.org | Nov 2020

Nullius in verba


Modi Govt’s New Land Policy for J&K Overturns 7 Decades of Land Reform

The Centre on Tuesday notified the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, enabling a host of new changes to the former state.

Under the new arrangements, no domicile or permanent resident certificate is required to purchase non-agricultural land in the UT. The Union home ministry has also notified the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, paving way for the acquisition of land in J&K by all Indian citizens. Previously, article 35-A of J&K Constitution, watered down on August 5, 2019, placed prohibitions on the sale of land to those who were not state subjects.

The latest order also empowers the government to declare any area in J&K as ‘strategic’ and intended for the direct operational and training requirement of the armed forces at the behest of an army officer of or above the rank of a corps commander.

If all of this is part of the BJP’s long-standing agenda of ending J&K’s ‘special status’, there is another change that many in the rest of India may not realise the significance of: the government’s order has also abolished the historic Big Land Estate Abolition Act, 1950 – under whose aegis the

— source thewire.in | Shakir Mir | 28/Oct/2020

Nullius in verba


Harvard’s half-billion land stake in Brazil marred by conflict and abuse

After the 2008 economic crisis, Harvard University, one of the most respected educational institutions in the world, sought to reallocate its endowment funds to safer assets. It invested more than $1 billion in land in Brazil, Africa, Oceania, Eastern Europe and the United States.

But a recent report shows that in Brazil, which accounts for almost half of Harvard’s total investment, at $450 million, most of the endowment’s acquired enterprises are territories occupied by land-grabbers in conflict with traditional communities and slave-descended quilombos in the Cerrado grasslands. The report, by GRAIN, a nonprofit that advocates for small farmers, and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, a social justice NGO, also links these lands to incidents of deforestation and death threats.

— source news.mongabay.com | Maurício Angelo | 19 Aug 2020

Nullius in verba