Black farmers in our area say long legacy of institutional racism has led to their disappearance

74% decrease in Black farmers in Florida over past 100 years

By: Anthony Hill

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Many Black farmers in our area say they’re struggling to survive and it’s not just because of the pandemic. They say racism and discriminatory practices in the farming industry have made it impossible to stay afloat.

Mr. Ronald Burton, a native of Ocala, Florida was elected to serve the black farmers and agriculturalists of Florida.

Mr. Burton is a Vietnam veteran who worked on helicopters while in the Service. After his military service, Mr. Burton returned home to Ocala, where he married Ms. Alice Nichols and became a self-employed businessman. As his family grew, he became employed as a lead engineer for an environmental engineering firm that specialized in nuclear and hazardous materials for over 13 years.

With the growing love of his early years, Mr. Burton returned to farming whereby he started to grow row crops and hay. He worked a brief stint for the USDA as a crop loss adjuster. Since then Mr. Burton has been a highly successful and knowledgeable farmer continuing to grow various row crops and produce volumes of hay.

ABC Action News in-depth reporter Anthony Hill dug deeper into their concerns and pushed leaders in the agriculture industry for answers.