This has been an unprecedented three months for this country and for the world. Three months ago, I had no idea what COVID 19 or CORONAVIRUS was. Today it’s all I hear about. Three months ago I was planning to get ready to go on an extended outreach trip visiting 1890 universities and farmer organizations throughout the south. 2020 has certainly gotten off with an interesting bang
Agriculture is, and has always been, a cycle of life and death. Life begins an every year, goes through it’s pattern of growth and production, terminating with harvests of plants and animals that give their lives so that we might be nourished.
The last three months have been full of death and more is likely to come. This virus is making us question not only our own mortality but the very underpinnings of our society. People have not only to mourn the loss of loved ones but watch as important parts of our society such as our small restaurants and businesses are withering on the vines before our eyes. It has not been pleasant to witness.
Farmers have had to destroy crops and dump milk. Supermarkets have been inundated. Restaurants have been shuttered.
But this has also been a story about life. The hard work of countless of medical professionals. The caregivers who sat with patients dying from the virus without family present so they wouldn’t die alone. The response of small, local farms trying to provide fresh food while keeping their small farms going. This is how life reacts to death with compassion and understanding.
In this episode of the Sustainable AG Rider Podcast, we look a this issue from two distinct viewpoints. Our guest is Jillian Hishaw. Ms. Hishaw is an attorney who specializes in elder care law and estate planning. A lot of Ms Hishaw’s work deals with helping people think through what will happen to them as they age and eventually die.
Ms. Hishaw has also founded and manages an organization called FARMS which works to support rural communities and farmers across the United States. Today Ms. Hishaw will discuss her work with us.
Enjoy the show! Stay safe out there!
Intro: Welcome to the Sustainable AG Rider podcast, a podcast bringing you news and views about sustainable agriculture from across the southeastern United States. Every show will feature insightful interviews and deep dives into sustainable agriculture topics with farmers, ranchers, land grant universities and local food system advocates. Now here’s your host, Brennan Washington.
Brennan Washington: Welcome, welcome, welcome. Thanks for joining me, Brennan Washington on The Sustainable AG Rider podcast. These are trying times we’re living in right now. I was on a bit of a hiatus for a while, mainly because I had some travel to do and then the subject of the day… Coronavirus, COVID19, coronavirus novel, whatever you want to call it, reared its ugly head and I decided I needed to just get back out and make sure I’ve been getting his podcasts out on a regular basis because we need a way to connect during these times.
Brennan Washington: A couple of weeks ago I was at the National Good Food Conference in New Orleans and the full effect of the virus was just starting to come into view.
Brennan Washington: And I was on the fence about whether I was going to travel to that event. And I decided, okay, I’m not going to be flying. Let me just go ahead and drive down, which I did. And it was a good conference. It was a gathering of a local food system stakeholders from across the United States. And I was scheduled to be on a plenary session on the last day of Friday. And we started taking stuff like social distancing a little more seriously. However, our panel happened that Friday morning, and as soon as we got done, they ended the conference because the 6-foot social distancing recommendation was being enforced in Louisiana. So I came home and realized very quickly that this was going to change not only my way of life for the foreseeable future, but also the way of life of a lot of people in this country. And at the time, I really had no idea about how impactful this was going to be.
Brennan Washington: So I’m sitting you recording this on a Wednesday morning like 4 a.m. And yesterday we had the greatest number of deaths in the United States from as far as some nineteen hundred deaths.
Brennan Washington: That’s almost two thirds of what the 911 death toll was. And I don’t even think we’re really we really know what our true death toll is.
Brennan Washington: We’re not doing testing. We’re not doing a lot of the stuff that we should be doing as an advanced country. And the thing about 9/11, it was it was tragic. It was impactful.
Brennan Washington: I remember walking through the subways and the railroad stations up there and actually. having to walk by armed military personnel carrying automatic weapons at the end of the day was an enemy that we could see and it was an enemy that we could all turn our attention to at some point in time. This is an enemy that we really can it’s invisible, it’s insidious and it’s striking at the very, very foundations of our society.
Brennan Washington: And I know that sounds a little that may be sound like hyperbole, but I really think, look, what’s happening right now, for a long time, a lot of us who worked around local food systems and worked around areas of economic and racial justice and small scale agriculture and the like have been saying that we have some serious problems with the way our economic systems are set up right now, especially as this applies to things like agriculture and stuff.
Brennan Washington: Those of us have been in a game for a while. Know that. You know, it just takes one monkey wrench in the system to really have a big impact. It was average up until the Corona virus that on average most American cities had a If a natural disaster were to strike. We had at most a three day supply of food and stuff like that in our grocery stores. And we’ve never really had to have that challenged.
Brennan Washington: I mean, there’s been the warning signs were there. There was there was Katrina. There was 9/11, which was while it was centered primarily in New York City, still underscore that the damage that was done that day underscored some fundamental problems we have with some of our economic systems here.
Brennan Washington: And so here we are today. Nineteen hundred, so I’ve been sheltering in place, especially after I got back from New Orleans. I’ve been staying close to home trying to do as much work as I can from home. The AG Rider can’t ride the roads, but it’s for good. I believe in science. I believe in listening to what the scientists tell me. And it’s just interesting where we’ve come and how fast this has happened. And one of the things I’m hopeful about is that this will cause, we’ll come through this. Well, we’ll definitely come through this. All of us may not come through it. You know, I’m at I’ve got a number of things going for me that really made me want to hunker down. I’m in the age class that’s at risk for it. I have some underlying previous medical history that puts me in a high risk category. And I had a occupation put me in a high risk category because I traveled a lot. So some of us may not make it through. And I don’t take this as a mission. I’m sick or anything. So far, I’m okay. But we’ll come out of this and I hope. And what a lot of my colleagues and folks that I work with, hope is that we will take this opportunity to look at systems and processes that a lot of us have been talking and preaching about for quite some time and start to elevate and uplift them.
Brennan Washington: And I’m especially concerned about the impact this is having on the black community. And a lot of my show is focused on farmers of color, specifically black farmers, but farmers of color and limited resource farmers who may not have access to funding in the programs and the attention given by the USDA to large industrial corporate farms, which unfortunately are not able to help us right now. And think about what’s happening. Farmers are plowing in their tomatoes in Florida because they can’t get labor in to harvest fields. That’s happening. And that’s why I say this. This is so insidious and it’s striking at our roots because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime and I don’t think I ever will again. I hope to not see it in a lifetime. And I hope that all these smart people we have out did developing all these models and all these projections are correct. And even if they are corrected, the results are still going to be pretty horrifying in terms of loss of life and businesses lost and the impact we are going to have on people’s livelihoods, local and small scale agriculture has had at its root just that very thing, local on a small scale.
Brennan Washington: And while this show mainly deals with agricultural issues and local food system issues. Included in that conversation are things like low wage workers, people who work in restaurants. The restaurant owners themselves. Not every restaurant owns a James Beard Four-Star restaurants. Most of the restaurants that we all know and love are small, independent family businesses. And this has crippled them. And some of them, unfortunately, are not going to come out on the other side whole. And and once again, going back to us, looking at these systems, our current economic systems are set up to help the organizations and institutions that usually can probably get back on their feet the quickest without any help. And so I’m hope I’m hoping that as we all talk about this and as we all do what we need to do to protect our loved ones, to protect our communities, that we really look at how we continue to do business and how we continue to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves and provide health care. And I’m just looking at the just absolutely stunning number of the percentage of black Americans who are being killed by this virus vis-a-vis other communities. And it’s just stunning. But it just points out to a long term, systemic, racially flawed system of health care and economic justice and things like that that we have going on in this country.
Brennan Washington: So what you know what? I’ve been staying close to home to our best extent. We are trying to provide whatever food that we can to our community. And one of the good things that I’ve been hearing from folks around the southeast and from across the nation in general is that there is now much more interest in folks getting in procuring food locally. And I’m so proud of a lot of the farmers across the country that are rising to this occasion and doing what they need to do to get help to get food into their local communities and doing it at a cost effective manner in a way that they’re not doing any gouging and they’re really just want to be there for their communities. I know we we are I know farmers throughout the south are trying to accomplish that goal. So we’re hunkering down, trying to do a few things around a farm. And I’m just catching up with folks mainly via phone and via Xoom. And I’m going to take this opportunity now to use this podcast as a voice in a vehicle for communication for us to talk about what’s going on with this pandemic. My guest today and I recorded this interview a while ago is with Jillian Hishaw. She is a state planning attorney on the phone call.
Brennan Washington: HiShaw. Law does a lot of elder care law, but she also owns a organization. She started an organization called Farms Farmers. And that organization has done some great work in raising funding to a) buy produce from rural farmers. And then donating that food to food banks. And she’s also been successful in raising some funding to help out farmers and food banks and local food organizations in times like we are going through right now and that’s the other thing that’s really been uplifting to see just at the grassroots level. How many people just say, OK. We just got a hitch our belts up and just do what we can do within the restrictions that we have to make sure that we take care of our families and take care of our communities. And I brought Jillian on a while ago to talk about her work around wills and estates and also her work and with farmers and local food system organizations. I felt it was timely to put this episode out now so you can hear a little bit about what she can do, but also soda. We could start to have a conversation about where do we go from here. We need to have things that are going to be changed. Either going to change for the better.
Brennan Washington: We’re going to change for the for for the worst is some people in this country who would go to come out of this fairly much unscathed. The they’re unfortunate to to lose a loved one. But in terms of economic opportunities, wealth generation, they’re going to come out of it just fine. A lot of us aren’t.
Brennan Washington: A lot of us aren’t. I was already worried about our farmers because a lot of the stresses that we’ve seen this year, just this whole.
Brennan Washington: Tariff war, just the impacts of climate change and weather, and one of things I also hope this is that we start to turn to a more science based reaction to problems and things that are going on in here. Climate change is real. It’s real. We can have a silly argument about whether it’s manmade or not. I know I know exactly where I fall on that issue, but it’s real. And all you have to do is look at the at the agricultural landscape over the last four or five years to see that it’s real. You know, we’ve a lot of farmers have had problems with rain this year. We had floods in the Midwest. We had a lot of rain down here in the South. Some areas are still having droughts. And I’m hoping that we turn to a more science based look at things and people start to believe in science again. I think we’ve moved away from that. Everything’s not a conspiracy theory. And so I want to use this show over the next couple of months or how ever long this thing lasts to do a couple of things. 1 make sure that, one, we are identifying resources and opportunity and help for our farmers and small scale and sustainable ag for our local food system stakeholders, including folks who run things like food hubs and aggregators, wholesale small wholesale operations. And then the folks who patronize those organizations and farms, people like our small restaurants, people like small grocery stores and small businesses who are buying from small farmers to make sure that we have a central place to know what resources are out there, to know what resources are out there, to have a place just to communicate with one another and and to be able to share that information.
Brennan Washington: Secondly, do you know when to use the show as way as many? You know, one of the things I’ve tried to be a catalyst for is around the issue of farmers stressors. And now it’s more than just farm stressors. We can now talk about community stressors and how we already had a critical situation around farmer mental health and that type of stuff. And I think this is only going to intensify that issue, those issues. But to have some conversations around what resources are out there and to bring people on and let you hear let people have a place to vent, to let people tell us if they’re doing well and how to feeling and what they’re doing to make themselves feel OK. And if they’re not feeling okay to have a place for folks to come here and say, I’m not doing that, well, I need help. So that’s the other thing we’re going to talk about. And the main thing is to make sure that we still continue to put our critical resources, that folks know where to get stuff when they get it, how to get it. But I’m going to need your help to help to help accomplish this. Starting with this show. And I will.
Brennan Washington: This was a short hiatus for me, but I will be coming out on my regular schedule again. I need to know that if you are a service provider or a funder, I need you to get information to me so I can put it up on my web. So mentioned on the podcast so people know where you are, what help you can offer and how you can access it. If you’re farmers, I need you to contact me about what help you need, how things are going in your area. Be nice to do a weekly roundup of of how you are coping as a farmer. Local food system stakeholder. How you were coping with this pandemic on a week to week basis. What’s going on? What do we need to do better? Are there any areas that we really need to pay attention to? And then I’d like to talk about at least half start to have some conversations about what do we do long term. I know right now everybody’s head is in the moment and it needs to be. We need to make sure that we’re taking care of our personal physical health. First and foremost, that we’re watching out for our neighbors and our communities. We need it. That obviously has to be front and center of where our thinking is now. But we could we all y’all a out there and I know all of you all can multitask. We also need to be thinking about what can we do to change this situation on a long term basis in a matter of a couple of weeks. We started to see it was almost like a horror movie, you know, minus the zombies or the aliens. You know, we saw stores being empty. We saw people fighting over toilet paper, of all things and local stores. We saw people hoarding. We saw people who, in spite of this being the richest company in the world, did not have six or eight or 12 months worth of salary saved up.
Brennan Washington: They were living from paycheck to paycheck.
Brennan Washington: And while my wife and I are blessed, you know, we’re not cash rich. So we had the foresight to teach us stuff ourselves, stuff like canning and stuff like that.
Brennan Washington: So we’re fortunate in that we we had food and stuff like that. And, you know, we just had to. And we always kept a little supply of pantry items like paper goods and that type of stuff. But there some people can’t do that. You know, you got single moms out there with two kids who are in low paying jobs. And they just don’t have those resources to provide that cushion for them. And that’s something we need to. Talk about we also need to know how we can become better partners and work with each other and to get across a lot of this bullshit political divides that we’ve been seeing in the country. And I’m not going to get too much into it. But, you know, in a case like this, this red blue crap has to be disposed of and we need to come together as a country and just do the right thing. I personally thought that there should have been a national lockdown. It’s still do if you look across the globe. Those countries that did do an intensive lockdown are now opening their cities back up. You know, we’ve got a situation here in Georgia where a governor issued a stay at home or stay at home order, but open up the beaches and we still don’t have the testing that we need. So in my opinion and I’m just a little farmer, a sustainable ag, right. I don’t even think, at least in this country, we have a true understanding of the magnitude of this problem yet. I really don’t. So the format is shows going to change a little bit. I’m still going to be doing some.
Brennan Washington: I’m always going to be doing my interviews, but I’m also going to be spending a lot of time making sure you know what those resources are.
Brennan Washington: And I’ll need to be on my Web site on a sustainable ag rider write-offs Web site, which is sustainable AG Rider dot com by having people on to talk about how they can help or what they need help with during this crisis.
And to mainly share resources, B, here’s an resource for them to assist people in need.
Brennan Washington: And this time of need. So in each show I’m going to have a section which announces, you know, what resources that I know of that are out there that you can tap into. Or if your funder or a service provider where you can where people can access your services. We’ll have some segments on mental health. And we need to talk about mental health.
Brennan Washington: Who can’t sweep that under the rug. I’m a little concerned about the black communities because we’re being decimated by this pandemic. And mental health in our community is usually pushed under the rug. We don’t talk about it that much. I know that I was going through some personal things for a while and I wasn’t discussing it with and I are still going through it, but I wasn’t discussing it when I never I have finally I just started talking to people about it. You know, people that I trust. And while I didn’t totally eliminate the problem, at least I was able to get it off now and listen to somebody give me another perspective. But most importantly, tell me it’s going to be OK. And that’s what I want to tell you. It’s going to be OK out here. So I want to say hello to all my friends out there in the southeast. We’re going to get through this. Look after your friends and your neighbors. And we’ll be back with the interview with Jillian Hishaw. Thank you.
Brennan Washington: So in normal times I use this little segment here to announce events and conferences and trainings that’s going on across the southeast.
Brennan Washington: But with the rise of Covid 19, I’m going to be using a segment to highlight organizations and groups that are trying to support and help farmers and local food system stakeholders through this event. So make sure you check the Web site and look at the resources that we have there. If you are a funder or provider, please make sure I have all your information. Send me a link to anything you have on your Web sites. I can make sure I get the information out to people this week where I’m about to talk with Jillian. Hishaw And Jillian is the founder of Farms Farmers. And she’ll talk a little bit about that organization in a minute. But she had that organization has formed a farmers emergency fund and they provide emergency funds to small farmers who are in immediate need, who are in need of immediate financial assistance. The farmer must be located in a rural area and be over 45 years old. Immediate expenses like a missed Farm loan payment, utilities tax lien, et cetera, are covered. One must provide proof funds are need it.
Brennan Washington: So these are the type of things that I want to highlight during this segment. So once again, if you are providing these type of programs, please get in touch with me and let me know. So let’s head on on to our interview with Jillian Hishaw.
Brennan Washington: So welcome to another edition of the Sustainable AG Writer podcast. My guest today is Miss Jillian High Shaw, who runs a couple of organizations.
Brennan Washington: And I’ll let her tell you guys about them. But welcome, Jillian. How are things in South Carolina?
Jillian Hishaw: Good. Thank you so much for having me.
Brennan Washington: Thank you for being on. So you’ve been very busy. You moved a lot of food last year. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. So before we get started. Why don’t you wear a bunch of different hats and agriculture? So why don’t you tell folks a little bit about yourself, what you do and your various organizations that you run?
Jillian Hishaw: Sure. So my name is Jillian. Hishaw. I’m an attorney and I started a nonprofit. The abbreviation for it is Farms, but that stands for Family Agriculture Resource Management Services. And it’s been in operation for about six years. We have a few programs. One is legal services. The second is our food bank program and the third is our emergency fund farmer fund program. And so just try to provide affordable legal services, particularly to black farmers. But all farmers are now seeking out services from the nonprofit. At this juncture.
Brennan Washington: Ok. OK. So let’s dig down a little deeper into each of those three areas that you work in. So let’s talk about your legal work. Where you’d go to law school at home?
Jillian Hishaw: Where would you go to law school? Oh, yes, sure. The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Jillian Hishaw: Ok. So I finished up there and. 2005. And then I stayed and got my legal master’s in agricultural law. So I also have an LML in ag law.
Jillian Hishaw: And it’s the only law school in the world that has a legal master’s program for agricultural law.
Brennan Washington: Wow. That’s interesting. What drew you to agricultural law?
Jillian Hishaw: Well, it’s it’s definitely twofold. My my interest in science. So my undergrad is in biology from Tuskegee. And so I’ve always been interested in science.
Jillian Hishaw: But also the history of my own family’s loss of our farm was also a catalyst for doing the work.
Jillian Hishaw: Ok. OK. Is that something that you can talk about because of families are losing their farms?
Brennan Washington: Actually, I think we’re on the cusp of another crisis right now with everything that’s been going on in terms of these weather related disasters. I think we’re going to see some fallout from this whole tariff situation. And folks are doing so. Is that an area you feel comfortable talking about exactly what your family went through? Because I think it’s important when people hear those type of stories.
Jillian Hishaw: Yeah, of course. So what happened was my my family owned a farm in Oklahoma and something happened. And my grandfather and my grand great grandmother relocated to Missouri, which is where I was born and raised. And while she was still living in Missouri, she hired a lawyer and sent money to this lawyer to pay the taxes, the property tax on the farm.
Jillian Hishaw: But instead of paying the property tax, lawyer pocketed the money and the land was sold off in a tax lien sale without our notice and without the family being given notice.
Jillian Hishaw: And so because of that, I just have an affinity for providing legal services, particularly to aging farmers in rural areas. Make sure that they don’t get taken advantage of. Like my great grandmother and my grandfather when they owned the farm and also to make sure that they don’t suffer a loss of land like my family did.
Brennan Washington: Were you guys ever able to? Did you attempt to get that land back or once it was gone, it was gone.
Jillian Hishaw: Well, it was just gone. My last name is native. And so I she was part of the Cree tribe and the land was was close to the reservation. Just from family history. So it’s it’s definitely a lot going on with the case. But I’ve been overwhelmed with other people’s cases that, you know, my family is like, oh, you know, you really need to look into your own stuff.
Jillian Hishaw: So usually I do want to do that. But. But, yes, that’s that’s kind of the catalyst for me, for my interest.
Brennan Washington: I’d just learned something new about you I never know about your Native American ancestry.
Jillian Hishaw: HiShaw is is native, so.
Brennan Washington: Ok. OK. And the Native American folks have just a whole different take on land and land ownership. And that whole thing has that influence to the to the work that you do? Or is it two totally separate things?
Jillian Hishaw: Yeah, it’s definitely influence just the way I look at things and how I approach my programs.
Jillian Hishaw: So it definitely has an impact. OK.
Brennan Washington: I don’t know if you I’m sure you’ve noticed all of a sudden there’s a lot of chatter about heirs property folks are looking to fund projects that have to do with heirs property. And it just looked like a light bulb went off and somebody in d.c.’s head then and say, oh, wow, this is a real problem. But that’s an issue that I know you work closely around.
And first, what can you explain what that is? What Heirs property actually is what people who don’t know.
Jillian Hishaw: I sure am. So heirs property occurs when the primary owners of the land, either a single owner or a joint owner.
Jillian Hishaw: Oftentimes it’s a married couple. They die without a will. And when you die without a will, the state takes over your your estate or the distribution of all of your assets. And so usually what occurs is that the husband or the wife will die first and then the surviving spouse will will die after without a will. And then the state distributes the assets evenly to their living heirs. And most of which are are their kids. And so usually you’ll have two parents, 10 kids. Two hundred acre farm. And the 10 kids share evenly after the both parents pass away. And then you have, you know, several generations later, you have, I don’t know, three hundred people owning that 200 acre farm. And if one of the three hundred heirs sells to a third party, that third party can force the sale of the remaining two hundred and ninety nine heirs in what’s called a court partition sale. And that’s how we specifically in the black community lose 30000 acres per year and landownership. And so that’s how that occurs. I do some work with heirs property, but it’s it’s fairly limited.
I usually refer people particularly like to the center various property, which any Stephens because she’s a good resource. OK. She’s in South Carolina. Yeah. Really, really great, great work that they’re doing down there. And but my main focus is, is aging services is just making sure that they have a will. But so did it. Don’t get. It doesn’t get to that point. OK.
Brennan Washington: And before we move on to other topics, I just want to talk about you talk a lot and you do a lot of speaking around.
Jillian Hishaw: I think you once explained it to me as elder law. And you’ve published a book recently called Don’t Bet the Farm on Medicaid. So in the last few minutes in this particular segment, can you talk about A, your book and B, what are the important things people should be thinking about when they get into that? When they approach that age with Medicare and Medicaid may be a factor. And it’s had a personal impact on me recently. Recently, Jillian, my mom passed away in February and she didn’t have a will and it was something we thought about. She really didn’t have much in the way of assets. She did have a small thirty thousand dollar life insurance policy that she left to one of her grandchildren who whose dad weren’t in the picture. She figured most of the other kids had intact families to make sure that they were provided but what he didn’t. And so after she passed Medicaid, the hospital put my sister through hell. They sued her. They tried to put a lock on her bank funds. And I noticed this, the type of stuff that you talk and we’re not even talking about having land involved. All right. That you can assets. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Jillian Hishaw: Well, I mean, that’s the thing that people don’t realize.
Jillian Hishaw: And that’s why I I really I really love focusing on on elder care in aging services for not just for farmers, but home owners are just people in general because people don’t realize that when you.
Jillian Hishaw: Well, you qualify for Medicaid that opens up your estate to a Medicaid lien. So if you owe an outstanding debt to the long term care facility or nursing home that your loved one is living, in particular your parents, if they owe an outstanding debt, then they could put a lean on all of your your assets and they primarily just focus on real estate and monetary assets and so on and so forth. Yes. So money and realty, which is the most valuable. They don’t want your furniture. They don’t even want really want your car. They they want, you know, the most valuable assets here. And people don’t realize that it’s not just land that we’re talking about. It’s even if you own a house.
Jillian Hishaw: And so, you know, you definitely need to get your affairs in order prior to qualifying for Medicaid, even if you’re not in a Long-Term Care Facility at the moment. But, you know, you’re getting older and you you may, you know, have to go. You need to. You need to make sure that things are out of your, you know, your name and transferred properly prior to even filling out a Medicaid application.
Brennan Washington: And I had heard something. But I don’t know how true this is. But if you are the surviving son or daughter of a parent who passes, is it true that they could come after your assets if that lien exists or or is it just restricted to the assets of the person who passed away?
Jillian Hishaw: It’s exceptions. So if you are surviving spouse and you’re residing in the home or and that’s your primary residence, then you’re exempt from from that lien.
Jillian Hishaw: But it definitely depends because the state the the nursing home can read knew the lien and so it’ll expire and then they’ll they’ll follow it, refile it in court. And so you can be on the hook, though, under state law, whether your surviving spouse or a sibling or child, depending on the state that you’re you’re living in. But definitely I do encourage your listeners to purchase the book. It’s electronic download, though, 2019 Medicaid guidelines were updated. And so each year, you know, I have to update it because each year the Medicaid guidelines change. And so the book looks at 13 states in their lien laws, most of the states from the southeast, with the exception of Massachusetts, Missouri and Kansas. Next year, I’m going to be adding more states to the booklet. But it’s not just for landowner’s, it’s also for home. Owners have just, you know, people in general. And so it just gives you a general overview of what to expect and what to look for. And it just allows you to develop questions before you seek out legal counsel or an attorney regarding any on your estate plan.
Brennan Washington: So it’s a really good resource and it’s a lot of bang for the buck because I think it was only twenty dollars.
Jillian Hishaw: And I’m trying to remember how to make it affordable for people to purchase.
Brennan Washington: Ok. OK. And we’ll we’ll let people know how they can obtain that publication as we get to near the end of the show. So now I want to talk about farm farms and what you’ve been doing in there, what the purpose of that organization is and just some of the great work that you do. You know, I follow you on Facebook and every year it seems like you move it more and more food. So tell our folks about what your organization actually done with your food bank program and all the other great stuff that you do.
Jillian Hishaw: Sure. And that’s farms is is is on Facebook in. And so the there’s again, there’s three program areas.
Jillian Hishaw: There’s the legal services. And within the legal services we provide estate planning, cell drafting wills, putting the land into trust, civil rights matters against USDA or what have you.
Jillian Hishaw: And we have a network of attorneys that we we work with because I’m not licensed in all of these states.
Jillian Hishaw: And then the second program is our food bank program that is been running the past six years, five and a half, six years. And we purchase produce from the farmers and then it’s donated in rural communities.
Jillian Hishaw: And so whether that’s a food bank, a church pantry, homeless shelter, or would you know what have you. And so over the past years, we’ve donated a little over three hundred and fifty thousand pounds worth of produce across the country.
Brennan Washington: So this is a national program, Jillian. Yes. Okay. All right. I saw something about California. That’s a long way to get some watermelon through the southeast. What? I didn’t realize you were national in scope. So you were. And, you know, one of the interesting changes that I’ve seen since my involvement and small scale on local agriculture has been the increasing ability of places like Food Bank to provide fresh food. You know, I remember 10 years ago we tried to come up with a program to donate food. That was it was went unsold at a farmer’s market. And the food ministry would work. And we said we would love to take you up on it, but we don’t have a way to keep. We don’t have a way to store. But it looks like now more food banks are putting in at infrastructure stores so they can get people that those fresh fruits and vegetables and stuff.
Jillian Hishaw: Yes, yes, I know. Definitely work on a smaller scale. But but yes, I am finding that more food banks are. Allocating more funding towards the purchase of fresh produce.
Brennan Washington: And so how do you get your funding? And tell us a little bit about how you work with the farmers as well.
Jillian Hishaw: Well, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I just basically apply for grants and the funds. You know, we’re there to work with the farmers within the food bank program. And so over the years, we’ve worked with numerous farmers in different states to expand the program.
Brennan Washington: Ok. And the other thing that’s been interesting about your program, you don’t try to get a wide variety of vegetables. I mean, I think you did watermelons. Did you do your squash one year?
Jillian Hishaw: It just depends. I’ve I’ve had a variety.
Jillian Hishaw: So I’ve I’ve bought squash and berries and melons and channel open potatoes and various things. But I try to stick with what people eat, because even if you buy it and you give it to women, they don’t if they don’t know how to prepare it or if it’s not familiar. They know they really won’t eat it.
Brennan Washington: Ok. OK. And so you’re operating pretty much across the southeast right now. I know you’re operating nationally, but you’re in your big sandbox. Is the southeast right now, right? Yes. OK. OK. All right. Your other thing you mentioned was that you have a farmers fund.
Jillian Hishaw: Yes. And so that’s that’s fairly new.
Jillian Hishaw: In twenty nineteen the past four years, we had disbursed a scholarship to a child or a grandchild majoring in science at Tuskegee. But because of the just overwhelming need of small farmers just to pay their electric bill, even though we have decided to convert that scholarship fund over to the emergency farm, fine.
Brennan Washington: Ok. So and I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Jillian Hishaw: That started just this year in January.
Brennan Washington: Ok. OK. So it can be any type of emergency. It’s not specifically related to, say, any type of disaster recovery. Like, you know, the South has been hammered by all types of weather related disasters over the last couple of years. But this could be actually there was a farmer in Atlanta recently whose house burned down. And so, you know, typically when that happens, Jillian, people just go to go fund me and try and raise what they can. But so but you cover a wide range of financial emergencies. It’s not just limited to, say, weather related disasters and stuff like that.
Jillian Hishaw: So, you know, we we did give five hundred dollars to that farmer. But yes. So we only work with rural farmers in rural communities. We don’t work with urban farms because just from I don’t know the trajectory that I see, the rural communities are under threat more so than urban areas, and they have less infrastructure and less support in higher poverty rates. And so we’re avail very diligent and only working with, you know, with rural communities. But I it’s across the board. I mean, we’ve given farmers money to pay their electric bill. We’ve given money for disaster relief for the farmer to purchase seed. So it it just it definitely varies. And there’s so many different things, you know, for inputs with the farm operation that to me, you have to be broad when you’re considering emergency circumstances.
Brennan Washington: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I know myself and I know my listeners appreciate that type of work. And I want to talk with you about rural communities for a couple of minutes. You know Frank Taylor out of Mississippi? No, he he runs a cooperative called Winston County Self-Help Cooperative. Frank is passionate about saving rural America. And as you know, I travel all around the south. So the large majority at being into rural areas. And just to be honest, Jillian, did you go into these rural communities and life is kind of bleak. You know, and you just wonder, you know, what it’s going to take to. Turn things around for someor these communities. You know, they’re having problems keeping young people in these communities for a whole host of reasons. A lot of politicians pay lip service to these role communities, but there’s not much attention paid in terms of providing infrastructure. Health care is a joke in a lot of these communities. So I just want to get your impression as you travel to these rural communities, what you see and what do you think we need to be doing more off to to assist the.
Jillian Hishaw: Well, exactly. And that’s why the farm’s mission is only on a rural and not urban, because people that I work with in rural communities are living from hand to mouth and literally and they’re being they’re still being taken advantage of because the one asset that they have in these communities primarily is the farm land. And it’s just because of the lack of infrastructure. You know, no funding is just very hard to revitalize a rural community.
Jillian Hishaw: And so to me, it it definitely falls somewhat on the, you know, the state and the federal government to allocate funding for revitalization of rural communities in various ways. But they have a third party kind of nonpartisan oversight to make sure that the funds are properly being spent in use. Because the problem is, is that, you know, even with the federal government in the state don’t allocate money, but it’s still you know, it goes through various hands and it’s not being spent properly. And so, you know, there’s programs out here now that are focused on just that revitalizing revitalization of rural communities. But if the money is misappropriated, then, you know, it defeats the purpose. And so there needs to be, you know, certain protocols to protect the integrity of spending, make sure that it’s used properly.
Brennan Washington: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Have you seen any examples of models that have been working in rural communities where they’ve been able to at least stem the blood loss and possibly at some point be able to turn it around? Have you seen any bright spots during your travels?
Jillian Hishaw: I have. I can’t write about it, of course, but I’m sorry. I can’t. Yeah, no, I understand what you’re saying. But I have seen positive when it comes to.
Jillian Hishaw: Like a major manufacturer or employer coming into the town and bringing jobs in. And, you know, money, that’s usually definitely something that uplifts the community. And so I know that a lot of companies and corporations want to be near the city or in the city. But if you purposefully even had like third party infrastructure in small, you know, surrounding towns, that would definitely help because the money in the city needs to start trickling outward in instead of just urban sprawl where it’s just development.
Jillian Hishaw: Development that’s not helping anyone.
Brennan Washington: I’m saying what’s going on around me. And they’re they’re just building to build, you know, and make the tax rate higher.
Brennan Washington: You know, not improving the roads. And so I see the pushing people further out. Look, we’re losing form, which is to be expected here, how close we are to Atlanta. But I want to touch on to you and this has come up on an every interview that I’ve done for something that is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine and that concerned urban agriculture. And, you know, my farm considered an urban farm. I’m not within the city of Atlanta proper, but where we’re highly urbanized here. And I never saw that. And I’m going to have some urban air folks. So they it on so he could beat me up about this. But I never thought that urban air, could she? I thought it had some highly specific areas where it could be a benefit to get people food and local communities where there were food deserts or access to fresh food, fruits and vegetables was a more real issue. But I never thought it was going to feed the world. What I did see the true value, Jillian Jillian of Urban AG was that I felt that producers who were working in those spaces would be the perfect gateway to connect rural farmers with those more fluent markets.
Brennan Washington: So, for example, here in Georgia, the farmers who are creating urban ag environment in Atlanta could then connect with farmers in southwest Georgia or down around Fort Valley and open up. Maybe somebody is more lucrative direct markets for some of those farmers down in those rural areas. Unfortunately, I have not seen it happen at all. There’s been a lot of talk about it, but it’s just not been happening. And I had to go even further. I really think it’s been kind of hubris on the part of the a lot of the urban ag movement and that they feel they don’t even have to connect with these rural areas. And I just want to know, is that something you’ve thought about? And if you have any opinions about this divide, how we’re not really connecting, I really think it’s important for the black community that we sort of figure out the problem. So I like to hear your thoughts about that.
Jillian Hishaw: Well, yeah, I definitely have noticed that.
Jillian Hishaw: And I definitely agree because I mean, there’s 300 million people over that in this country. I last checked in.
Jillian Hishaw: I mean, urban gardens, urban ag.
Jillian Hishaw: It’s definitely essential, but to me, it would be good if it was like a starting point or a catalyst for people kind of like anything incubator system where after two years, you know, you belong to a larger farmer and a rural community to revitalize, you know, that rural community and to really get production up to really feed people. I mean, I know that you can grow up. You know, we’re not out right now with the vertical.
Jillian Hishaw: But at the end of the day, the breadbasket of the country is the Midwest.
Jillian Hishaw: And that’s because it it has large farms. And so you have to have there has to be a space for large farms, corporate farms, and which unfortunately, it has to be, you know, large scale. And I just find that a lot of people don’t know how to grow their food. And if they get into urban ag, they learn, but then they need to grow and they need to move and grow out of the urban out into rural areas.
Jillian Hishaw: And I’m not seeing that as well. But hopefully there’ll be a move towards that.
Brennan Washington: Yeah, that’s it. That’s going to be a pet project of mine and 2020’s. Figure out how to grow. And, you know, there’s still some families and definitely some black farmers who have some pretty significant landholdings and they’re still growing stuff like collard greens and peas.
Brennan Washington: And and that type of stuff, we just they just need to have a market for it. And, you know, we’ve got we’ve got to figure that out because that’s the other thing to help them hold onto this land is to make sure that they’re financially viable. To be honest with you, too often, you know, like even farmer’s markets. I talk with Scott. You know Scott. Scott Moore. No. OK. Scott,Marlow up your neck of the woods. He were he works with Rafi. But he said something to media. The days that were not going to farmer’s market our way out of this issue. You know, and it’s it’s going to be corporatef armss, which, you know, you get the mid-scale farms, what we’re losing. So while black farmers that I have 100, 200, 300 acres, we’re still fortunate to have that stuff. We really need to have a way for them to to make sure that they’re financially viable.
Jillian Hishaw: So. Exactly. And I just feel like with the urban mix, to me, it seems like it’s more of a competition between urban and rural farms with rural farms. They take on more debt. They have more input costs as opposed to urban. You know, it’s the main to me, the main thing that that hinders them is zoning. And so with rural, it’s just it’s more of a depressed circumstance. And and it it needs to be a conjunction or partnership of bringing more sales to the rural farmer. Right. Does that mean they are the ones that did know have the loan payments and USDA challenges and thinks that this nature and and also making sure that those income opportunities that we can develop put more money in their pocket?
Jillian Hishaw: You know, that’s a little more traditional. They need revenue.
Brennan Washington: Yeah. All right.
Jillian Hishaw: I don’t want to end the show on that depressing note. You know, we know we have some significant challenges out there. I got actually caution. I think you told me that at one point you had an art some sort of arts program.
Brennan Washington: Are you still doing that?
Jillian Hishaw: No. No, I’m not. OK. The cases have just been overwhelming. OK. I’m no longer doing that program. Oh, OK.
Brennan Washington: So tell our listeners how to how to get your book. I didn’t get your information. Sure. If they want to bring you in to speak, just let us know how people can get in touch with you.
Jillian Hishaw: Sure. You can purchase the book on w-w-what? jillianhishaw.com And just go under the products tab and then you can also visit thirty thousand acre estate or to learn more about farms and our programming. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram on Instagram as well.
Brennan Washington: Ok. We’re coming into conferences and you speaking at any of the conferences this year.
I saw. Nope. Not at the moment. Not at the moment. Considerable. Hopefully things will be secure. Down the line. But. But no, not at the moment. OK. OK. Well, Jillian, I want to thank you for taking some time.
Brennan Washington: I’m going to make sure that all your information is included in the show notes so people will have those links and stuff to get to you. And I hope to have you on again to just talk about some of the other maybe in the summer when you’re actually and full throttle is going to work with your organization just to talk about than maybe you could tell or even talk to us about somebody. Amazing farmers stuff.
Jillian Hishaw: Great. Well, thank you so much, friend, for creating this podcast and all of the work that you’ve been doing 10 plus years and having me on, of course.
Jillian Hishaw: Ok, ok. Well, you make sure you have a restful holiday. I know the cases are stepped up on your desk. Make sure you take some time for yourself now. I will. OK.
Brennan Washington: Thank you so much, Jillian. Thank you for being our guest. Thank you.
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