Like many industries, U.S. agriculture has long carried with it a racial equity problem, tracing back to American slavery. Since the start of 2020, many companies have stepped up to voice support for social justice measures, and Cargill has created a partnership to help dismantle these inequities: the Black Farmer Equity Initiative. Cargill says it will be partnering with the National Black Growers Council and 100 Ranchers to further the initiative’s mission.
According to a press release put out by Cargill, the ultimate goal is to work with customers, nonprofits, and others to help increase the participation and profitability of Black farmers. As a first step, the partners will convene listening sessions with Black farmers, ranchers and producers, to map barriers and prioritize ways to improve market access and financial inclusion, sustainable agricultural practices, support next-generation agriculture leaders and advocate for policies that advance equity in agriculture.
“Cargill’s engagement will help create long-term solutions to increase market opportunities and earnings potential for our growers,” said PJ Haynie III, chairman of the Black Growers Council.
The Black Farmer Equity Initiative is part of a larger effort by Cargill to put its resources toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the agriculture industry and in the communities where the company operates. To address anti-Black racism in the United States, Cargill has signed on to Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s Black Equity at Work Certification, joined the OneTen partnership, and dedicated resources to the CEO Action for Racial Equity. In its headquarters community, Cargill is advancing programs through the Cargill Foundation and with the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity. Globally, the company has contributed more than $15 million in the last year to programs that strengthen and support marginalized or underrepresented communities.
Cargill, which has 155,000 employees across 70 countries, says it has dedicated itself to supporting farmer livelihoods in the United States and around the globe.
“Our values drive us to put people first. That is why we are working to address anti-Black racism by helping make the agricultural economy work for more producers,” said Anna Richo, Cargill’s general counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and corporate secretary. “Racism is systemic, so our approach to addressing it must also be systemic. The status quo is not acceptable. We must do more in food and agriculture to invest in the Black community.”