ALBANY, Ga. -- The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is presenting its 29th annual Georgia Farmers Conference Feb. 10-11. The conference will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Heather Gray, director of communication for the federation, said the group supports the starting and development of rural cooperatives with programs that increase income and create other opportunities -- especially for African Americans, but essentially for all family farmers.
The federation and the associated Land Assistance Fund also remains concerned with diminishing ownership of black-owned land, from a variety of reasons, Gray said, and assists black and rural farmers in facing those issues. According to federation sources, African-American land ownership reached its peak in 1910 and has been on a steady decline since.
According to Gray, The federation has been active in assisting member farmers in filling out required claim forms associated with the recent black farmers discrimination suit, also known as Pigford II, against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Gray said that qualified attorneys will be on hand at the conference to assist some farmers on a limited basis. However, she stressed that those requesting help should call 1 (800) 503-5678 immediately to make an appointment. Gray said also that for those with appointments, the work could be done for free in the hotel lobby or for $20 each day as an attendee of the conference.
Included in those who plan to attend the conference are Shirley Sherrod, Southwest Georgia Project; state Rep. Winfred Duke, D-Albany, and state Rep. Lynmore James, D-Montezuma. A congressional update will be given by U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Albany.