Heirs' Property puts many Black families at risk of losing their farms. John Deere and its LEAP Coalition partner organizations, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and National Black Growers Council, are helping families like the Elys retain their farmland.
In 1941, Joe Ely bought over 100 acres of southern Alabama land and built a farm to sustain his family. Today, his children and grandchildren still own the land, but face a legal threat the jeopardizes their heirs' rights.
The Ely's grandchildren, Derric Jackson and Michael Peoples, who both live near the farm, have grown hay and beans in recent years to help sustain the property, using a John Deere 4044M Tractor with a 400 series front loader to help with their operation.
The Elys own what is known as Heirs' Property — land that belongs to multiple people with a common ancestor who didn't leave a legal will. Heirs' Property is the leading cause of involuntary land loss among Black farmers. With upwards of 60 percent of Black farmers operating on Heirs' Property it's a critical issue nationally.
Without clear and documented title, Black farmers are unable to use their property as collateral to secure loans or credit to further develop their businesses. They're often precluded from government programs and other forms of emergency or disaster relief.
John Deere and Thurgood Marshall College Fund have partnered to launch an internship program that will support the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, providing three law students who will work with families, including the Elys, to help preserve Heirs' Property in rural communities.
#JohnDeere #HeirsProperty #FarmFamilies #Farming #LandOwners
0:00 - Joe Ely's Legacy
0:37 - The Ely Family of Barlow Bend, Alabama
1:43 - Keeping the Land in the Ely Family
2:43 - Planning for the Future
4:06 - Joe Ely Would Be Amazed
4:52 - Eliminating Barriers Created by Heirs' Property
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