March 3, 2021

Racism, Land Loss, and the Creation of Modern Agriculture

The modern food system, including the industrial factory farms and slaughterhouses that produce most of today’s meat, is the product of a long process of consolidation of power. Racism shaped this history: the number of Black farmers has dropped by 98% from a peak of 200,000 in the early 20th century, and this racism persists. Workers of color are at greater risk of covid-19,  and Black farmers continue to lose their land as the consequence of racial discrimination. This panel will explore the ways that the theft of Black farmland in the 20th century helped to create today’s inequities, and how racism continues to harm farmers of color.


  • Thomas W. Mitchell is a professor at the Texas A&M School of Law and a 2020 MacArthur Fellow who researches the ways the legal system robbed Black farmers of their land in the 20th century and who advocates for restorative legal reforms.
  • Carlton Sanders is a farmer and litigant suing Koch Foods, a poultry company, for violating the Civil Rights Act in its dealings with him. 
  • Moderated by LEAP Student Fellow Helia Bidad (J.D. 2022).

This event is presented as part of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program’s One Health Speaker Series, and it is co-sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, the Yale Animal Law Society, the Yale Environmental Law Association, and the Environmental Protection Clinic at Yale Law School. 

More information can be found here