The Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization (TSFR/CBO)
is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1998 by W. Wade Ross (State Director)
and, his wife, Anita Ross (Executive Administrator) while farming and ranching on 120
acres in Bryan, Texas – a legacy from his paternal grandfather, Jack Ross (a runaway
slave from South Carolina in the late 1890’s). The uncultivated property was offered to
Grampa Jack for $1,200 by the townsfolks that wanted to keep him in the community for
his excellent blacksmith talent. He was allowed to pay $100 a year for 12 years, so
since he couldn’t read or write he notched an old tree in front of his little shack each
year before he went into town to make his annual payment. On the 12th year after he
made his final payment in town, a group of white men told him that they had chopped
down his “payment tree” so he had to start his payments again which Jack did for
another 12 years. To this day, the family cannot find a tree with his notches.
Recognizing that the time had come for small and underserved farmers and ranchers to
organize themselves, to effectively articulate their needs and issues, to chart their own
destiny, and to begin to engage themselves in the public policy development process
was a result of the “100 Farmers Conference” Coalition signed into existence on August
7, 1998 and held at Langston University, Oklahoma with representation from each of the
lower seventeen southern states. The purpose of the conference was to initiate a
process by small and underserved farmers and rural residents to develop organizational
capacity to impact public policy development. The Texas participants signing the 100
Farmers Conference Coalition included Wade Ross (current TSFR/CBO State Director)
and Omar Garza (Texas /Mexico Border Coalition CBO) which authorized them (under
the direction of President Clinton) to return to Texas to organize and advance the cause
of underserved communities.
TSFR/CBO was initiated in Bryan, Texas by a group which included 30 Black farmers
and ranchers from surrounding counties as its first members and also a few
representatives in attendance from Prairie View A&M University (a 2501 – 1890 school)
just prior to the settlement in April, 1999 of the infamous Pigford v. Glickman class
action lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in 1997 by Timothy Pigford, who was joined by 400
Black American farmer plaintiffs. Dan Glickman, the Secretary of Agriculture, was the
nominal defendant. The allegations were that the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) treated black farmers unfairly when deciding to allocate price
support loans, disaster payments, “farm ownership” loans, and operating loans; and that
the USDA had failed to process subsequent complaints about racial discrimination.
Texas Small Farmers & Ranchers Community Based Organization (TSFR/CBO) core functions towards the underserved farmers and rancher’s community are:
Communication – To develop and deliver effective communication that provides access to agriculture related information and resources.
Education and Training – To develop and deliver effective education and training to build sustainable enterprises.
Program Delivery & Customer Service – To develop, manage, coordinate and support outreach initiatives, programs and activities that provide information and technical assistance.
Outreach Research & Evaluation – To acquire, collect, develop, analyze and disseminate new knowledge, data and information related to USDA outreach activities to underserved constituencies.
TSFR/CBO was established to be a “Point of Contact” and liaison within the Black American agriculture community that since its inception and to date provides effective outreach of at least 1 to 4 outreach events monthly to more than 400 Black American agriculture producers and landowners in 54 counties in East and Central Texas.
This CBO is actively accelerating assistance to minority, females, limited resource producers, veteran, beginning farmers and ranchers by providing outreach assistance in receiving information, technical and program assistance from USDA, state and county agencies as well as various Texas universities.
On September 12, 2012, Wade Ross, Founder and State Director of TSFR/CBO
received the USDA 64th Annual Secretary’s Honor Award in Washington DC – “For
forging partnerships between government agencies and other entities leading to
changes that promote sustainable agricultural client bases and healthy environments for
rural and underserved communities.
“The last 50 years have been difficult for small farmers. The federal, state, and local government have not helped the small farmer. Some of you have been in hell as it were, but don’t stay there. Take your anger and disappointment and recycle them into positive energy. Building capacity in community-based organizations and how to move legislation through the system are of optimum importance. I urge the creation of unified community-based organizations…
It is imperative that small and underserved farmers are at the table when decisions are made. It takes a strong power base to build community-based organizations. In the Bible book of Genesis, Jacob wrestled all night with an angel until the angel blessed him. The lesson is that we should not let go until we get what we want…”Tia Young, 100 Farmers Conference, 7 August 1998, Oklahoma City, OK
This website is dedicated
to the memory of
Julius W. Clebourn
Chairman of SE Texas Small Farmers & Ranchers CBO – 2001 – 2007Chairman of TSFR/CBO – Region 2 – 2005 – 2007
2006 GLCI Conference St. Louis, MO