We recognize that the fair was not canceled because of racial injustice, but we would like to commemorate a moment in our history when we did cancel the fair and we see this as an opportunity to show our solidarity with people of color.
Agriculture is our mission, the Heath Agricultural Society was founded to promote and support it. Agriculture, in the United States of America, was founded, and in large part still exists on the backs of black and brown and indigenous people. Slavery and racism have had an incredible impact on who owns, accesses and benefits from farmland. Even today, our food system relies heavily on people of color to function. People of color continue to be exploited in our agricultural economy, and suffer disproportionately as a result of structural racism—with barriers to wealth, opportunity, housing, food and health, while living with the wearing impact of prejudice, judgement and fear.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shined a light on what happens when our food system and supply chains are disrupted. Farmers, even farmers here in Franklin County, are wondering how they will fill their labor force in 2020 because they will not be able to rely on the immigrant population to harvest our food. Our apple/fruit orchards are a good example of a local sector of agriculture that still relies heavily on immigrant labor for the harvest of crops. Racial justice is not a black person’s issue. It is not a brown person’s issue. It is not an indigenous person’s issue. This is our issue, together.
Heath Agricultural Society