Tag Archives: Crop farming

US ‘honor roll’ of historic places often ignores slavery

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —
Antebellum Southern plantations were built on the backs of enslaved people, and many of those plantations hold places of honor on the National Register of Historic Places – but don’t look for many mentions of slavery in the government’s official record of places with historic significance.

The register’s written entries on the plantations tend to say almost nothing about the enslaved people who picked the cotton and tobacco or cut the sugar cane that paid for ornate homes that today serve as wedding venues, bed-and-breakfast inns, tourist attractions and private homes — some of which tout their inclusion on the National Register like a gold star.

The National Register of Historic Places lists more than 95,000 sites that are important to the story of the United States. From some of the most famous places — such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate — to scores of lesser-known plantation homes in the rural South, register entries often ignore the topic of slavery or mention it only in passing, an Associated Press review found.

Experts blame a generational lack of concern for the stories of black people and, in many cases, a shortage of records. While some narratives have been updated to include information about enslavement, such changes aren’t mandatory and many have not.

The National Register’s entry for Mount Vernon, approved in 1977, doesn’t use the word “slave,” although more than 300 enslaved black people worked the first president’s fields, cooked his food and cleaned the house where tourists now roam.

The entry for Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop home, Monticello, notes that the third president owned as many as 200 slaves. Yet it generally avoids discussing them or the details of their ownership by the author of the Declaration of Independence.

The same is true for plantation after plantation across the former Confederate states.

Those omissions likely contributed to the loss of slave housing and other structures linked to the economy of enslavement because no one deemed them important, preservationist Ashley Rogers said.

“The problem is, the damage has been done,” said Rogers, executive director of the Whitney Plantation Museum near New Orleans.

The Whitney, which documents slavery at a pre-Civil War plantation near New Orleans, draws tens of thousands of visitors annually and is known for discussing topics that other tourist plantations ignore. Yet even its entry in the National Register, completed in 1992 before the current owner purchased it, doesn’t mention the slaves who toiled there.

Similarly, visitors to Mount Vernon or Monticello in Virginia can now hear stories and see exhibits about slave life — but those features were added long after the landmarks became some of the first sites listed in the National Register.

The National Register’s incomplete stories reflect the way the public ignores the topic of enslaved people, said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an associate professor at Ohio State University who specializes in areas including African American history.

“It’s telling us what we have been valuing as a society and how we understand slavery,” Jeffries said.

Congress established the National Register of Historic Places under a 1966 historic preservation act aimed at coordinating preservation work and highlighting the nation’s most historic sites.

Along with bragging rights, a listing on the National Register can help property owners financially. More than $160 billion has been invested in preserving 44,000 historic places nationwide under a tax credit program approved in 1976, according to the National Park Service, which oversees the program.

Property owners, local groups and government agencies nominate sites for inclusion on the National Register, noting architectural features, historic significance and other information. State preservation offices review the nominations and submit them to the Park Service for a final decision.

Those nomination forms, available on government websites, make up the bulk of information that’s publicly available about places listed on the register, the Park Service said. And they often ignore the enslaved people who provided the labor on antebellum plantations.

Magnolia Grove, a state-owned antebellum plantation home dating to 1835 in Greensboro, Alabama, has a slave cabin that tourists can visit, plus displays about enslaved people, yet its 1972 entry on the National Register doesn’t mention slaves.

The state-operated Kingsley Plantation near Jacksonville, Florida, was home to slaves, yet its National Register entry doesn’t say who they were or how they were forced to work in the Southern heat. Instead, it describes tabby — a kind of concrete made of oyster shells — and the “colorful” slave trader Zephaniah Kingsley, who gets credit for having “carefully trained” enslaved people to farm his cotton.

A historian who has researched the antebellum South, Clifton Ellis, said many National Register entries reflect a time when neither African American history nor the cultural importance of buildings were emphasized.

“You might see that there’s a relation between lack of information and when they were written,” said Ellis, of Texas Tech University. “It was only during the ‘70s that historians were beginning to look at slavery more closely. That took time to work its way through the academy.”

Many plantation owners also kept poor records of slave life and did little to preserve reminders of it — another reason for the information void.

The civil rights movement drew attention to the need for inclusive history, Ellis said, and nominations have improved with time. Property owners and historical groups are allowed to update National Register entries with new information. Some have done so with information about slaves.

Today, any new nomination of an antebellum site that doesn’t discuss its ties to slavery would be rejected for more work, said Sarah David, who oversees the National Register program for North Carolina.

“You can’t talk about something that was built before the Civil War without talking about enslaved people,” she said. “They were just in it. They may have built it.”

The historical blindness about slavery and enslaved people isn’t limited to plantations in the National Register.

The entry for Alabama’s white-domed Capitol details its role as the place where delegates established the Confederate States of America in 1861, but doesn’t cite slavery’s role in the rebellion or Horace King, a onetime slave credited with building the elegant, curved stairways in the building’s main entrance.

Joe McGill routinely sleeps in old slave homes as part of The Slave Dwelling Project, which seeks to tell the forgotten stories of enslaved people. Sketchy accounts of slavery are a product of a decades-long period when white male historians primarily told the stories of white males, he said.

“It needs to be corrected because it coincides with an incomplete narrative,” said McGill, who has slept in about 150 slave dwellings in 25 states in the South and the North.

But updating all that outdated history would be daunting, historians said.

With hundreds of old plantations listed on the National Register and many preservationists focused on saving endangered sites rather than updating information about existing ones, rounding out the history of antebellum farms could take years.

“It would take a massive effort,” said Ellis.

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‘Flash drought’ brings mud and dread to southern farmers

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Throughout an unlimited expanse of the South stretching from Texas to Maryland, there are rising issues for the cattle, cotton and corn amid a worsening drought fueled by this summer time’s report excessive temperatures.

One of many bullseyes marking the nation’s driest areas is Bartow County, Georgia, the place excessive drought has kicked up buckets of mud and left cattle pastures naked. The farm nation northwest of Atlanta is among the many hardest hit spots in a dozen Southern states the place greater than 45 million residents are actually residing in some sort of drought circumstances, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report reveals.

Throughout the South, the drought has ravaged the pastures the place cattle and different livestock feed. The vast majority of these lands are in both poor or very poor situation in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and West Virginia, the U.S. Division of Agriculture reported in its most up-to-date crop report. Pasture and vary circumstances had been in even worse form in Virginia, the place 71% of the land is in poor or very poor form.

“Trying forward if we do not get sufficient rain and the pastures do not get better, we’ll be dipping into winter feeding hay earlier than time, or should liquidate some cattle,” mentioned Dean Bagwell, a cattle farmer in Bartow County.

“It’s irritating with the climate, sophisticated by cattle costs not as excessive as we would prefer to see them,” he mentioned. “So if you’re pressured to promote, then you are going to have much less revenue. It simply all performs into the frustration of making an attempt to make a residing farming.”

At a farm the place individuals come to see the kangaroos, camels and different wildlife in Cartersville, Georgia, proprietor Scott Allen factors out the “baked mud” and cracked earth within the mattress of a small stream close to his zebras. The pure spring water is sort of dried up, so he is utilizing municipal water.

“It has been in all probability higher than 60 days since we had any precipitation that amounted to something,” Allen mentioned. “The mud is simply relentless.”

The USDA crop report reveals practically 1 / 4 of the cotton crop is in poor or very poor situation in Texas, the place greater than 13 million individuals — greater than half the state’s inhabitants — are experiencing drought circumstances, the middle reported. Excessive drought unfold into a number of new areas of central and japanese Texas in current weeks.

The scenario can be dire in North Carolina, the place 40% of the cotton and 30% of the corn is in poor or very poor form. In Georgia, practically 20% of the peanut crop is in poor or very poor situation, the report reveals.

The warmth has performed a big issue, forecasters say. In August, excessive temperatures and humidity despatched the warmth index hovering throughout the South. The warmth index — what it truly appears like — rose to 121 levels (49.four Celsius) in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on Aug. 12. And that warmth caught round, carrying report excessive temperatures into October. A number of Alabama cities this 12 months have seen their hottest October temperature ever recorded.

The mixture of dry climate and intense warmth can create drought circumstances comparatively shortly, leading to a “flash drought.”

The time period took place throughout a 2001 drought within the Nice Plains. Mark Svoboda, director of the Nationwide Drought Mitigation Middle, was searching for a option to describe the speedy onset of that drought and got here up with “flash drought,” he recollects. The phrase resonated with individuals and made headlines in The Omaha World-Herald’s protection of that drought. Again then, Svoboda and different scientists had few instruments to trace flash droughts. Throughout the previous decade, nonetheless, satellite tv for pc imagery has given forecasters a lot better knowledge to observe a rapidly-spreading drought, Svoboda mentioned.

In coming years, local weather change is anticipated to accentuate droughts and improve their frequency, scientists warned within the Nationwide Local weather Evaluation launched by the White Home final 12 months. And warmth waves are anticipated to hit the South tougher than different areas.

Cities with a very excessive threat of future warmth waves embrace Memphis, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina. New Orleans and Birmingham, Alabama, are additionally cited within the report as having traits towards extra intense and frequent warmth waves.

A brand new report on the drought is anticipated later Thursday displaying the harm already executed, however now Bagwell and different farmers are involved concerning the long-term outlook. Octobers are normally among the many driest months within the South. There’s one hope for farmers: Lengthy-range forecasts level towards above-normal precipitation within the Southeast later this month, based on the Local weather Prediction Middle.

On the Tri-County Gin in Cartersville, one of many final remaining cotton gins in north Georgia, mud from the Georgia purple clay coats the pickup truck the place proprietor David Smith friends over the steering wheel and ponders the dry circumstances.

“It is not an entire, general catastrophe, however there are locations which might be hurting unhealthy,” he mentioned.

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China to elevate punitive tariffs on US soybeans, pork

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China will elevate punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. soybeans and pork in a commerce warfare with Washington, a state information company stated Friday, including to conciliatory gestures by the 2 sides forward of negotiations.

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China will droop tariff hikes on soybeans, pork and another farm items, the Xinhua Information Company stated, citing the Cupboard planning company and the Commerce Ministry. Beijing “helps home firms in buying a specific amount of U.S. farm produce,” it stated, however it gave no particulars.

The transfer follows President Donald Trump’s determination Wednesday to postpone a deliberate Oct. 1 tariff hike on Chinese language imports to Oct. 15.

Hopes are rising that the 2 sides may defuse the extended dispute that’s threatening world financial progress. However there was no signal of progress on the principle points of their sprawling battle over commerce and know-how.

Beijing’s determination to revive entry to low-cost U.S. soybeans additionally would assist Chinese language pig farmers who use soy as animal feed. They’re reeling from an epidemic of African swine fever that has precipitated pork costs to soar.

Telephone calls to the commerce and finance ministries weren’t answered on Friday, a nationwide vacation in China.

“China has an enormous market, and the prospects for importing high-quality U.S. farm produce are broad,” Xinhua stated. “China hopes the USA shall be true to its phrase, make progress on its commitments and create favorable circumstances for bilateral agricultural cooperation.”

Beijing imposed 25% tariffs on American farm items final 12 months in response to Trump’s tariff hikes on Chinese language items. Importers have been ordered to cease shopping for soybeans, the largest U.S. export to China.

China focused farm items, hurting rural areas that supported Trump within the 2016 presidential election.

Secretary Steven Mnuchin known as Wednesday’s tariff delay by Trump a “goodwill gesture to the Chinese language.”

The Commerce Ministry stated Thursday importers have been asking American suppliers for costs of soybeans and pork. It gave no indication whether or not they deliberate to put orders.

Washington needs Beijing to roll again plans for state-led growth of leaders in robotics and different applied sciences. The US, Europe and different buying and selling companions argue these violate China’s free-trade commitments.

Some American officers fear they’ll erode U.S. industrial management.

Negotiations broke down in Could over implement any deal. Beijing says Trump’s tariff hikes have to be lifted as quickly as an settlement takes impact. Washington needs to maintain some in place to make sure Chinese language compliance.

Trump and Chinese language President Xi Jinping agreed in June to renew talks however the final spherical in Shanghai in July produced no progress.

Chinese language negotiators are as a consequence of fly to Washington in early October to fulfill with Mnuchin and U.S. Commerce Consultant Robert Lighthizer, in accordance with the treasury secretary. He stated mid-level U.S. and Chinese language officers have been as a consequence of meet subsequent week or the next week to arrange.

By delaying his tariff hike, Trump allowed for the likelihood the talks may make sufficient progress to avert the rise indefinitely. Nevertheless, economists say a closing settlement is unlikely this 12 months.

Tariff hikes by each side on billions of {dollars} of products have disrupted enterprise for farms and factories in each international locations, weighing on world financial progress.

China’s announcement Friday additionally fine-tunes commerce penalties to cut back injury to its personal economic system at a time of slowing progress.

Lack of entry to American soybeans pushed up prices for Chinese language pig farmers after African swine fever precipitated the lack of greater than 1 million pigs and disrupted provides of China’s staple meat, inflicting costs to soar.

Authorities have informed soybean importers to seek out new sources however the USA is the largest and lowest-cost exporter. Patrons want to Brazil and Argentina however their output can’t fill the entire hole and their costs are larger.

On Wednesday, Beijing introduced exemptions from punitive duties for 16 classes of American merchandise.

The Chinese language exemptions apply to uncooked supplies wanted by farmers and factories and a few medicines.

The Commerce Ministry stated Thursday that exemptions have been granted if no different suppliers may very well be discovered or the rise would damage Chinese language trade or the economic system.

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