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Cotton Field


Gaining Ground:
The Fight for Black Land

Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund staff including, Dania Davy and Bruce Harrell were featured in the film "Gaining Ground: The Fight for Black Land."

The film, directed by Eternal Polk shares stories of heroic Black landowners, including heirs' property #andowners receiving land retention assistance from the Federation and New Communities Inc.

The film was dedicated to the late Rev. Charles Sherrod.

For the past two years, John Deere has sponsored our land retention efforts, including funding for interns, and Federation legal fellows.

This work from Emmy-nominated Director, Polk, examines the causes, effects, and what is being done to fight the exploitation of laws. This work also examines how landowners are reclaiming their agricultural legacy and creating paths to generational wealth.

On Monday, June 12, Al Roker Entertainment hosted a private screening of the film at the Smithsonian African American Museum, Washington D.C.

The Federation offers Land Retention/Heir Property Assistance and Mediation in the following states:

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, and U.S. Virgin Islands. 
  • Florida/Virgin Islands (FAMP)
         ***Newest agreement****​
  • Georgia Agricultural Mediation Program (GAMP),
  • Louisiana Mediation Program(LAMP)
  • Mississippi Agriculture Mediation Program (MAMP)


Phone: 404-765-0991

Fax: 404-765-9178



Many of the cases are eligible for mediation under these programs:

  • Agricultural loans, whether made by USDA or commercial lenders and; 

  • Disputes involving USDA actions on farm and conservation programs, wetlands determinations, rural water loan programs, grazing on national forest system lands, pesticides, rural housing, and business loans, and crop insurance.


Who can use the program?

  • Farmers, Neighbors, and Municipalities with Right to Farm disputes

  • Farmers and USDA Agencies with USDA program disputes

  • Farmers, Lenders, and Creditors with Agricultural Credit disputes


The mediator is:

  • Impartial;

  • Maintains a respectful and safe environment for the parties;

  • Allows parties to speak and be heard;

  • Helps identify and clarify the issues;

  • Directs collaborative problem-solving;

  • Helps the parties test solutions;

  • Doesn't make decisions for you and;

  • Summarizes the agreements reached by the parties

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Black Land Loss Prevention

The land is one of the greatest and most valuable assets African American farmers possess.  Black farmland ownership, which peaked in 1910 at 16 to 19 million acres, has decreased to less than 3 million acres today. The causes of the loss of rural black land are numerous and complex, but none is more notable than heirs' property. 


Heirs Property is created when a landowner dies without a will, or other forms of estate planning, for the transfer of ownership of land to another. Subsequently, heirs' property owners do not have clear titles to the land they own.


Today, it is estimated that over 60% of all black-owned land is heirs' property.


For over 5 decades, the Federation has provided education and technical assistance to thousands of heirs land property owners across the South with the goal of reversing the trend of black land loss and encouraging land-based economic development.  In support of this mission, the Federation established its Regional Heirs Property and Mediation Center in 2017 to coordinate a collaborative network of partnerships and resources to address the systemic problems associated with heirs' property throughout the Black Belt region. These partnerships are providing rich opportunities for research and advocacy on heirs' property issues.


The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, in collaboration with the Alcorn State University Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center, completed a research study entitled, “Land Loss Trends Among Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers in the Black Belt Region.”  The primary goal of this study was to better describe the impact of heirs' property on Black farms and land loss to recommend policies that could decelerate that loss and improve access to USDA programs for heirs' property owners. 

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