Sunday, October 18, 2009

Report from FLAG Board Meeting

I just returned home from Georgia where I participated in the Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) Board meeting. I have served on the FLAG Board pro bono for just over a year.

FLAG is "a nonprofit law center dedicated to providing legal services to family farmers and their rural communities in order to help keep family farmers on the land."

FLAG's work on behalf of minority farmers is reflected in the most recent elections to the board. They are Phil Baird, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Vice-President of Academic, Career & Technical Education at the United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota; May Lee, a Hmong farmer with a certified organic farming operation through the Minnesota Food Association's New Immigrants in Agriculture Project, Jerry Pennick, Director of the Land Assistance Fund of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Linda Yardley, an Outreach Liaision with the National FSA American Indian Credit Outreach Initiative.

Former board member, Shirley Sherrod joined us for a special soul food dinner. Shirley has been a long time champion of black farmers through her work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund and the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative. Shirley left the board because of her new position as Georgia's head of the USDA Rural Development office. She is pictured here with her "Family Farm Champion" award.

LL.M. alumni may recognize Shirley from the documentary that we watch each year in Agricultural Perspectives, Homecoming.

Shirley's husband, civil rights leader Charles Sherrod joined us and told a moving story of the history of the civil rights struggle in Albany.

On the way home, I made a point of stopping at the Vann Farms market. It is run by Frank Vann's son Scott. Chris Kelley used to work with Frank Vann at the Vann Law Office in Camilla, Georgia. It was nice to be in beautiful Southwest Georgia again and to taste some of the "farm fresh" produce at the farm stand. I brought home some fresh pecans for Chris.

Special thanks to Rita Capes from FLAG for the nice photographs. Rita was my travel companion on the drive from the Tallahassee, Florida airport to Albany, Georgia and made the trip even more enjoyable.

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