Peanut growers are among the most united producers in agriculture. We are a family and a powerful community and it’s important to ensure all of us have access to the opportunities generated by NPB. One of the ways we’ve connected with marginalized growers over the years is through a partnership with the National Black Growers Council, a non-profit organization with the mission of improving the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of black row-crop growers.
Recently, Dr. Dewayne L. Goldmon was selected as NBGC’s new executive director. Goldmon earned his PH.D. in agronomy from Iowa State University and has over 30 years of experience in the agricultural chemical and seed industry and is a farmer in southeast Arkansas. He has worked in research, government affairs and human resources for Monsanto Company (acquired by Bayer Crop Sciences). Throughout his education and career, Goldmon has worked on diversity initiatives and built relationships with several land-grant universities and community-based organizations.
We talked with Goldmon about his experience with the Council and goals for supporting the success of black farmers.
NPB: How do you add value for your members as you work toward your goal of improving efficiency, productivity and sustainability for black farmers?
Goldmon: Black farmers are often left out of the circle of information that happens at the coffee shop, seed store, USDA office or country club where we are not present. The Council offers a way for them to receive unbiased, relevant information in a friendly manner. The Council creates networks and develops mentorships to help black farmers succeed. It provides access to information in a manner that’s relevant and relatable to their operations and circumstances.
NPB: Why is it important for all growers to get involved in ag leadership?
Goldmon: Black farmers need to get comfortable about making sure USDA and others understand their perspective. As the saying goes, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Tight economies make agricultural advocacy even more important. For example, having irrigation in the Southeast, where the majority of our members operate, is a big differentiator for farm profitability and overall success. If a program is only offered to enhance existing systems, our farmers are often left out because prior issues often prevented previous generations of black farmers from installing these systems. If this prior prevention is not addressed, we often find ourselves left out of the programs and being forced to operate at a disadvantage. The creators of that program need more awareness of black farmers’ circumstances in order to better serve all growers, and bringing that awareness that takes leadership and “AGvocacy”, as Council Chairman P.J. Haynie III often says.
NPB: What is the biggest challenge that black growers face in agriculture and what are some solutions?
Goldmon: In farming, there exists a saying that you’re either born into it or you marry into it. Farming is extremely capital intensive. Today’s black farmers are forced to deal with historical inadequacies that were faced by their ancestors; this is by far the largest challenge. While USDA settlements have dealt with some of the painful and unnecessary discrimination of the past, today’s black farmers still face problems with its cumulative effects. This situation has resulted in black farm operations that often lag in equipment and technology infrastructure, which can make it more difficult for black farmers to be successful. These inadequacies are often exacerbated by farmers not being aware of programs and resources to overcome them. But we remain focused on the future. As growers, we strive to leave the farm to our sons and daughters in even better condition than when we received it. Access to and judicious use of information that will help black growers improve will help meet that challenge.
NPB: We’ve seen more attention being brought to mental health for farmers, and the Council has covered this issue in your newsletters and at the annual conference. Why is mental health an area of focus for you?
Goldmon: Unfortunately, this issue hits home for us and we’ve lost members of our Council family to unaddressed mental health challenges and on-farm accidents. It’s an important challenge because we need to make sure that black farmers know about all the resources that are available to them to overcome challenges on the farm and to address their anxieties and grief. We feel that addressing these issues are vitally important to black farmers surviving and thriving.
NPB: We certainly get a lot of value from partnering with the Council. What value does the Council receive from partnering with NPB and similar agricultural organizations?
Goldmon: I’ve been familiar with the National Peanut Board for many years in my previous roles. I’ve seen the value that’s come from the research dollars that have been invested and how that has resulted in new products on the farm, for example. It’s important for black farmers to know about that and for all of us to be at the table to share knowledge and come to mutually beneficial, workable solutions.
For more information about the National Black Growers Council, visit www.nationalblackgrowerscouncil.com