ICRNet Program for BIPOC Farmers in the Southeast U.S.

with the support of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and the Walmart Foundation
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“Working with African American farmers in the Southeast U.S. compels us to adjust our conceptual and programmatic focus, from ‘equity’ – ensuring parity in access to information – to ‘social justice’ – considering how information has been or can be used to marginalize or to empower disadvantaged groups.” (Social Justice in Climate Services, Furman, et. al, 2014)

In 1920,
there were nearly 950,000
African American farmers in the U.S.

There are increasing risks to BIPOC farmers
from climate change, particularly risk of more regular
and intense droughts and floods, which are expected to
increase in intensity by 50% by 2050.

Today there are only
45,500 Black Farmers, a little
more than 1%
of the total number.

Research confirms BIPOC farmers need more inclusive
access to Climate-Smart Agriculture information
and financial resources.

In 1910,
Black farmers owned
16-19 million acres.

Access to inclusive climate resources can best be
accomplished through networks of existing trusted partner organizations.

Today, some 68,000 Black farmers own 7.8 million acres, less than 1% of the country's total farm acreage.

Regional hubs of Inclusive Climate Resource Networks (ICRNet)
provide access to local capacities and targeted resources
for BIPOC farmers within a 3-5 county area.

Yet those 7.8 million acres owned by Black farmers
are worth $14.4 billion.

Peer-to-peer networks have demonstrated great success
reaching BIPOC farmers with new information and resources.

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BIPOC Farmer Program Overview

The Inclusive Climate Resource Network (ICRNet) is a core U.S. program for N4J and is funded through partnerships with The Kenan Charitable Trust, The Walmart Foundation, and other donors. The purpose of the ICRNet program is to provide access to resources to create greater climate resilience among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and persons of color) farmers in a three to five county region.

The ICRNet will consist of a network of regional partners promoting awareness and access to climate-smart agriculture practices, regional climate risk analysis, financial assistance, and capacity development. Each regional network will be supported by a Climate Resource Hub staffed and directed by local practitioners to customize the service offerings to fit the specific regional priorities. The initial pilot Hub will be in central North Carolina and more Hubs are expected to follow after the establishment of the pilot.

Launching Next Phase of Program

Phase 1 of the program began in the Spring of 2021 with a strategic analysis of the needs of BIPOC farmers in the southeastern U.S. and selection of the location for the initial Regional Climate Resource Hub.

Phase 2 began in April of 2022 and is focused on launching an ICRNet Hub serving four counties in central North Carolina (Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, and Wake counties).

The Regional Climate Resource Hub Approach

Each Climate Resource Hub will work with BIPOC farmers, existing locally trusted partners, and selected donors to facilitate access to funding, information, technical expertise, and new markets. 

The graphic below illustrates the functions of a Climate Resource Hub.

Each hub will have a manager familiar with the agricultural, market, and relevant actors and activities in the area. In addition, each regional hub will have a community outreach/research associate to work with the regional hub manager.

The initial focus of the central NC regional climate resource hub will be addressing risks of droughts and floods through small-scale irrigation systems and nature-based flood management practices. Beginning in the summer of 2022, the hub will conduct research on the needs and priorities for addressing drought and flood risks.

According to an analysis by Climate Central, North Carolina is expected to see its droughts increase in intensity by around 50%. Coupled with the 9.4-degree temperature increase within this century, North Carolina is at severe risk for drastic climate-induced losses.

In addition, the central NC regional hub is sponsoring several programs engaging BIPOC farmer groups in the fall of ’22.

Resources