The Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC) strengthens a vital piece of food sovereignty: helping keep lands in the hands of family farmers, in this case primarily African-American ones. The Federation was born in 1967 out of the civil rights movement. Its members are farmers in 16 Southern states, approximately 90% of them African-American, but also Native American, Latino, and White. The Federation’s work is today more important than ever, given that African-American-owned farms in the US have fallen from 14% to 1% in less than 100 years. To help keep farms Black- and family-owned instead of corporate-owned, the Federation promotes land-based cooperatives; provides training in sustainable agriculture and forestry, management, and marketing; and advocates to the courts and to state and national legislatures.
Ben Burkett, farmer, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives director and National Family Farm Coalition board president, said, “Our view is local production for local consumption. It’s just supporting mankind as family farmers. Everything we’re about is food sovereignty, the right of every individual on earth to wholesome food, clean water, clean air, clean land, and the self-determination of a local community to grow and do what they want. We just recognize the natural flow of life. It’s what we’ve always done.”