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DSU and USDA officials poses with members of the First State African American Farmers' Association during the Conference.
In this photo: DSU and USDA officials poses with members of the First State African American Farmers’ Association during the Conference.
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CAST hosts Black Farmers’ Conference – Photos

Friday, November 10, 2023

DSU’s College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology (CAST) expanded its advocacy and resources facilitator roles as it held its first annual Black Farmers’ Conference on Nov. 8-9.

For images of the conference, click on the below link:


The two-day, well-attended Conference connected African American farmers with a wide variety of state and national resources for support and opportunities.A conference attendee checks out an agriculture robot that can detect diseases in crops and remove them before spreads.

Dr. Cherese Winstead Casson, Dean of CAST, said the conference signals the University’s commitment to help reverse the dwindling number of African American farmers in the First State. According to Dr. Winstead, between 1990 and 2023, the percentage of Black farmers in Delaware dropped from 17% to less than 2%.

“It is critical that Delaware State University – especially because we are a Land-Grant institution – makes its footprint in this area of increasing the number of students that seek out the agriculture discipline so that we can reverse that dynamic of a dwindling number of Black people that are going into agriculture and increase that,” Dr. Winstead Casson said.

Because the inequities in the access to resources, support and information are significant factors in the reduced number of Black Farmers in Delaware and throughout the country, the Conference directly addressed the inequities. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Delaware Department of Agriculture, as well as many other farming support organizations attended and participated in various sessions of the Conference.

“We worked to create this platform at the conference, so our attending Black Farmers could get everything they needed in a one-stop shop, connecting them to the local, state, and national resources in order to solve the problems that they are confronted with in their agriculture pursuits,” Dr. Winstead Casson said.

Benjamin Crump, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney who was a featured speaker at Conference, shared one of the legal battles he waged along with John Boyd Jr., president and founder of the National Black Farmers’ Association, who was also a speaker at the conference.Benjamin Crump shared his experience in challenging inequities.Benjamin Crump shared his experience in challenging inequities.

Mr. Crump and Mr. Boyd challenged the 2020 settlement in connection with the lawsuits filed over the connection of the pesticide Roundup to cancer. “The settlement they tried to put through did not include the Black farmers, nor did it include any type of health prevention or education,” Mr. Crump said. “There were thousands of Black farmers that didn’t know they had rights until John Boyd came forward and got them settlements funds.

Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse, who spoke during Conference first morning sessions, shared a number of the resources available through that state agency. “The Delaware Department of Agriculture focuses on two areas – serving people and solving problems,” he said.

The Black Farmers’ Conference was the fruits of a series of meetings over the last year between the First State African American Farmers’ Association and Dr. Winstead Casson.