NMSDC, Black farmers

National Minority Supplier Development Council Triples Cohort Size In 2024 Acres Program, Empowering Black Farmers With Substantial Financial Support

The goal is to help increase incomes as producers access new markets including commodities, grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council is boosting the number of Black farmers and ranchers in its second cohort in a big way.

The 2024 Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture will consist of roughly over 30 participants, about three times larger than the number during the first cohort. Now in its second year, the program trains and certifies Black farmers and ranchers as diverse suppliers.

The goal is to help increase incomes as producers access new markets, including commodities, grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets, according to the press release. The program was formerly known as the Black Farmers Equity Initiative. 

The program is being expanded this year with financial backing from the likes of Cargill and UNFI, contributing over $500,000.  Walmart has contributed $220,000 to support the effort.

This year’s cohort will benefit from a revamped learning curriculum thanks to a partnership with the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. See the list of the latest cohort members here. 

Farmers and ranchers in the program will engage in a 12-week learning curriculum centered on growing their capacity to take on major national contracts with NMSDC corporate members in the food supply chain. NMSDC will help them obtain MBE certification after the program ends.

This year’s cohort represents the rich diversity and potential of the Black agricultural community,” stated Jetheda Hernandez, NMSDC senior director of strategic alliances and programs. “We look forward to the more inclusive and sustainable food supply chain they will help create.”

The initiative is needed as McKinsey & Company has reported only 1.4% of farmers today identify as Black or mixed race, versus about 14% a century ago. Figures show that Black farmers account for less than 0.5% of total U.S. farm sales.

The program’s expansion is part of NMSDC’s ongoing efforts to address disparities Black businesses face both within and without the organization. That major trend was highlighted in NMSDC’s 2022 Minority Businesses Economic Impact Report, which was released in May 2023.