New legislation could increase access to farmland.

Since the beginning of 2021, seven states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation that would reduce the disproportionate amount of land loss to African-American farmers. To address the issue of heirs, they will join the 18 States under the Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) between 2012 and 2020.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. [the UPHPA] In their territories ”

A.D. In 1910, according to the USDA, 20 percent of black farmers owned an estimated 16 million hectares of land. But In 2017, black land ownership fell by 90 percent to about 1.6 million hectares. Violence and intimidation, along with years of neglect and racism, contributed to the USDA, the decline of black farms, and the worsening of land losses.

Given the role of land ownership in wealth creation in the United States, this land deficit contributes to the modern seed gap. UPHPA wants to reverse this trend by helping landowners occupy their land. And while heirs’ property hurts Americans of all backgrounds, the largest amount is in the Black Belt South. Virginia, Mississippi, Florida and New York all qualified for the 2020 UPHPA.

Frances Miller, CAFS lawyer at the Vermont School of Law and Food Systems, sees the media’s focus on heirs’ assets as reflecting current events. “The account of America’s racial history is part of what is going on here,” Miller told the Food Tank.

According to the CAFS Farmland Access Legal Toolkit, the heirs’ property is issued when the property owner dies without a will or when the heirs are called a tenant-joint form. In these cases, state inheritance laws provide common property to all family members known as co-tenants. The number of co-tenants increases with each successive generation, and each heir has the right to use the entire property.

Co-tenants may not know each other, may not even know the property exists or may not agree on how to use it. Marcus Comer, chairman of the Black Family Land Trust Board, said that some families “only realize that their heirs have property when they try to farm.”

Lack of clear ownership makes it impossible for individuals to legally access the land, use it as collateral or access USDA programs that require emergency assistance, other financial assistance, or a farm number.

Before UPHPA, co-tenants could sell their land without the consent or knowledge of their co-owners. The new landlord may then demand a subdivision, which would require the entire land to be auctioned off – the profits divided among the heirs – regardless of the interests of other co-tenants.

In this way, the new owner can buy the land sold at auction for less than the market price, leaving the heirs of the land landless and occasionally homeless.

Initially in Nevada Al Pass, UPHPA requires co-tenants to have the opportunity to purchase a tenant they want to sell. Courts should also take into account the cultural significance of property and non-economic factors, including problems that may arise from displacement. Price only as a last resort, reflecting market value.

Some families have made good use of UPHPA, but many others who are eligible to use it cannot pay the legal fees involved. The 2018 Farm Bill will allow heirs to pay $ 10 million a year in legal costs to settle land claims. With the release program, owners can apply for up to $ 600,000 in benefits. The US Forest Foundation’s sustainable forest and African American conservation program Mavis Grag told the food tank that the supply would give UPHPA states a choice. “[Lending institutions] In other states, the UPHPA will have an edge over its peers, ”Grag said.

The 2018 Farm Bill also provides access to USDA programs to help landowners who own farmland to obtain farm numbers. In UPHPA states, this process is also simplified, encourages mobilization, and is strategic to pass UPHPA nationally.

The USDA has issued a directive to heirs who are looking for a farm number. According to Dania Davy, director of land conservation and advocacy at the Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund Federation, it is important to ensure that USAID decides how to implement this directive.

To assess the accessibility of heirs to USDA programs, the federation is conducting research to build and advocate for future condominiums. “We have the law, the articles, the advice to understand the needs of the heirs. We need more help to do the lifting,” Davy told Food Tank.

Photo courtesy of USADA

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