Team Member


Fund Advisor

Ben Burkett is a long-time advocate for Black farmers in the South and has spent the last 40 years as a farmer and cooperative organizer in Petal, Mississippi. To fight the ingrained discrimination against Black farmers Ben organized neighboring farm families to develop the Indian Spring Farmers Association. In 1978, Ben joined the staff of the Emergency Land Fund (ELF) where he identified and worked with other Black farmers and landowners to protect their landholdings. When EFL merged with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Ben’s role expanded to include spreading the word about the cooperative business model and teaching diversified crop development for conservation and marketing purposes. Ben was later appointed to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Committee for Mississippi where he helped raise the profile of agricultural and handicraft co-ops throughout the South. Today he serves as a State Coordinator for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives. As a tireless promoter and advocate for the cooperative business model, Ben is sought-after speaker, trainer, and organizer. Ben’s work was recognized with a leadership award from the James Beard Foundation in 2014.

Support our work

The fund now welcomes funding from a broad array of donors to continue to support rural Black community self determination throughout the Black Belt region.