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Black farmers honored at national eventBlack farmers honored at national event

Reclaiming, Regaining and Regenerating Our Farms was the theme for the 33rd Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference.

Pam Caraway

November 15, 2023

2 Min Read
A woman and two men. The man in the middle won a farmer of the year award.
National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd and his wife Kara recently presented Julius Davis (center) of Lorman, Miss., with the NBFA Oldest Farmer of the Year award during the organization’s 33rd annual conference in Natchez, Miss. (Fred Watkins)Fred Watkins

Four was the winning number at the 33rd Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference in Natchez, Miss., in late October: four honorees, two fourth-generation farmers, one career spanning 40-plus years of photography.

NFBA President John Boyd, a fourth-generation farmer, presented the Farmer of the Year and the Oldest Farmer of the Year awards to fellow fourth-generation farmers.

Celebrating agricultural leaders is essential to ensure a next generation of farmers, Boyd said.

“When I leave God’s green earth, I hope there’s another generation of Black farmers out there,” Boyd said. “If we look around and say there is no more, we all failed.”

With that in mind, the organization focused this year’s conference on “Reclaiming, Regaining and Regenerating Our Farms.” Leaders who are succeeding in those efforts include those honored with the NBFA’s highest awards.

Honored farmers

  • Farmer of the Year. Jermaine Walker of Sumter, South Carolina. Walker is a fourth-generation farmer who manages a poultry operation and grows soybeans, corn, wheat and cotton.

“He is a passionate farmer who has overcome challenges and adversity,” Boyd said. “He believes in the importance of diversity in agriculture, and regenerative practices.”

Walker’s philosophy is based on conservation. “As a farmer, I was taught we don’t grow crops,” Walker said. “We are nurturers of the soil, and the soil in return nourishes our crops.”

  • Oldest Farmer of the Year. Julius Davis also is a fourth-generation farmer. He raises cattle and horses and grows hay and vegetables in Lorman, Miss. Davis restored the farm that his family lost two generations before him.

  • Chairman’s Award. The number four continues to crop up in the 2023 award winners. Photographer Fred Watkins has a storied career spanning more than four decades. He worked as a photographer for ABC’s Good Morning America and Ebony and Jet magazines.

“My affiliation with those iconic magazines afforded me the privilege of traveling with and photographing Nelson Mandel and Muhammad Ali,” Watkins noted. He also covered every U.S. president from George H.W. Bush to Joe Biden.

  • Partner of the Year. The fourth award winner is Nicolaine M. Lazarre, vice-president external affairs, of Charter Communications. Lazarre was recognized for being a “consistent partner in helping us provide Black farmers with assistance to overcome broadband and connectivity challenges facing their daily farmer operations.”

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