John Boyd, Jr., founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association (Photo courtesy Business Wire)

WASHINGTON—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Founded by John Boyd Jr., a fourth generation Black farmer, businessman and farmers rights activist, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) is calling on the Biden administration to end its proposed ban on menthol tobacco products, calling it a misguided federal policy that will devastate Black farmers and rural communities. The NBFA, representing 130,000 members across 47 states, has launched a nationwide #SupportBlackFarmers petition to rally support from the public, farmers, and those who care about America’s agricultural future.

“The White House is about to hand down another mandate that will put more Black farmers out of business,” said Boyd, “The proposed federal ban targets adult use of menthol tobacco products – the kind of tobacco products preferred and grown by Black farmers. This will rob small towns and businesses of critical income.”

The process to finalize an FDA rule is expected within weeks, creating the largest prohibition of a legal adult product in modern history. If enacted, the ban could lead to widespread unemployment, loss of income and assets, and even the potential extinction of generations of farming families. This is particularly true for Black farmers who are already struggling due to misguided federal policies and a lack of relief or alternatives.

Few workers have been hit harder in recent years than Black farmers, whose numbers continue to dwindle. In 1910, about 14 percent of U.S. farmers were Black, owning more than 16 million acres. According to the latest available Census of Agriculture data, only one in 100 farmers is Black, owning a total of less than 5 million acres.

The association previously represented one million Black farmers across the country, a figure which now stands at over 130,000 across 47 states.

“We know all too well how misguided policies from the federal government have, time and time again, put another nail in the coffin of Black farmers and rural towns across America,” added Boyd. “My members stand on the brink of disaster. We must find a better solution that does not further damage America’s shrinking rural towns or put additional pressure on hardworking farmers. This NBFA petition allows us to speak out – we hope the White House will hear the concerns of generations of Black farmers.”

Beyond the economic impact, opponents of the ban on menthol tobacco products note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban being considered would criminalize the sale, distribution, and possession of menthol cigarettes under federal, state, and local laws. This criminalization could result in mandatory minimum sentences, revocation of parole, fines, the loss of one’s right to vote, or even deportation, among other criminal legal consequences.

A study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reveals that 40 percent of adults who use cigarettes smoke menthol and that over 80 percent of Black smokers use menthol. The menthol ban would further criminalize a population that has historically borne the brunt of disproportionate consequences in the criminal legal system.

See the#SupportBlackFarmers petition.

About the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA)

The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) is a non-profit organization representing African-American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA’s education and advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for Black and other small farmers.

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