John Deere Launches LEAP Coalition Website Focused on the Preservation of Black-Owned Farmland

Recently, John Deere launched Deere.com/LEAP, the official website for the LEAP (Legislation, Education, Advocacy and Production Systems) coalition. The site serves as a comprehensive resource that explains why LEAP is important to farmers.

In 2020, John Deere, the National Black Growers Council (NBGC), and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announced the establishment of LEAP, which is focused on the work needed to improve the lives and livelihoods of Black farmers with a particular emphasis on the preservation of Black-owned farmland in rural communities throughout the United States.

“John Deere has always been focused on its customers and the farming community, and the company also has a rich history of advocating for and investing in opportunities to advance social and economic change,” said Tharlyn Fox, a John Deere employee and manager of LEAP. “If you combine that history with the leadership and expertise we have in agriculture, John Deere is uniquely positioned to help address issues such as Heirs’ Property and to further unlock the economic potential of all farmers.”

Heirs’ Property

Heirs’ property — land jointly owned by descendants of someone who did not leave a legal will, thereby leaving them without a clear title to the land — is the leading cause of involuntary land loss among Black landowners. Land that is passed down without a will is delegated to surviving family members by way of fractional ownership, meaning any heir can divide or sell the land.

The coalition is working with organizations like the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC) and others to provide awareness, expertise and legal resources to help Black and other traditionally under-represented farmers gain clear title to their land. LEAP is dedicated to ensuring the long-term sustainability of over 60 million acres of land currently owned or farmed by Black farmers.

“We have connected with and made significant commitments to Black farmers through our partnerships, and we are dedicated to their success and sustainability,” Fox said.

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