Ag group addressing Black farmer land loss

The LEAP Coalition, a partnership between John Deere, the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, is working to address Black farmers losing their land because of heirs’ property.

Heirs’ property is the ownership of land split between multiple parties with a common ancestor because the previous landowner didn’t leave a legal will. LEAP Coalition Manager Tharlyn Fox.

“The impact of that is that they’re not able to use that land as collateral to secure a loan nor are they able to take part in any government initiatives,” she said. “So, they are holding this clouded title.”

LEAP says heirs’ property is also the leading cause of involuntary land loss for Black landowners.  Fox said if one or more of the landowners sell their ownership of the property the rest of the owners become at risk of a forced sale.

“[To] whoever purchases that, the courts can force the family to sell the entire property,” Fox said.

She said it’s critical to help Black farmers secure the title to their property to prevent wrongful land loss. Fox said several states are seeking legislative action to prevent property loss through heirs’ property.

The LEAP Coalition focuses on legislative, education, advocacy, and production systems to help support Black farmers and says it’s dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of more than 60 million acres of land owned or farmed by Black farmers. More information on the LEAP Coalition can be found on its website.

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