Joe Thompson, a black farm owner, understands firsthand the difficulties of obtaining a loan to start his farm.
“I’m going to be truthful and honest with you,” Thompson said. “The people at the government offices, they made it so hard for people who were black to obtain financial loans.”
Thompson said when he received his operating expense, a woman at the U.S. Farmers Home Administration, which operated until 2006, held his check in her desk for about 20 days after he signed that he had received it.
“(They did) stuff like that to get you behind, get you frustrated, make you quit,” Thompson said.
In another instance, when Thompson tried to put in an irrigation pond on his farm, he was told he needed 10 acres of available land to build it. He had 9.6 acres of land — four-tenths of an acre short.
“(Agency workers) had no business at all in the position that they were holding to not help one farmer that was just as good as the rest of them,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s Prawn Farm began in 1979 as a tobacco farm. After Thompson had a hip replacement, he said he had to find something he could handle, so he switched to prawn farming.
In 2010, Thompson won the Gilmer L. and Clara Y. Dudley Small Farmer of the Year award from N.C. A&T.