New Communities, other nonprofits and historically black colleges across the South fought for the creation of the 2501 program in 1990, a farm bill initiative designed to help minority farmers through outreach and training.

But since the program was authorized, funding has been a struggle: In the 2014 farm bill, funding was cut in half and the pool of eligible applicants was expanded to include programs that help veterans.

The program needs to be reauthorized with each bill, and advocates are concerned the Trump administration will cut funding entirely in the next farm bill, which Congress will debate this year.

I’m worried overall about this administration and the lack of inclusiveness, the lack of communication, especially with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and minority farmers.

said John Boyd, a farmer and president of the National Black Farmers Association.

The painful history of slavery, sharecropping and discrimination led many black people to turn away from farming and land ownership, as well as the promise of jobs in industrial northern cities.

Those who stayed to farm often found they were still being discriminated against by lending institutions like the USDA, especially as technology advanced and the average size of the farm grew. Black farmers didn’t have access like their white counterparts to many of the loans that would have helped them modernize, with local offices denying black farmers’ applications or failing to reach out to their communities.

Read the full article on the 2501 program by Erin McKinstry at Harvest Public Media