NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County native is an advocate for minority farmers and ranchers on the federal level.
On Wednesday, he spoke to East Texas News about programs available for under-served farmers and ranchers.
The Mill brothers, three of 10 siblings, have had their various professions, but agriculture creates the significant bond. Today cattle are raised on their Central Heights homestead, but cotton was their father's commodity.
"Igalious Mills-Used to pick cotton and the whole nine yards," Igalious "Ike" Mill, a member of the USA Minority Farmers Advisory Committee.
Igalious Mills recalls the challenges common to the time.
"He was never able to get a loan just to be able to do his crops, and then when he was able to take his cotton to the gin, you know, he always got paid less than his white counterparts," Igalious Mills said.
Treatment has changed. There are now innovative loan products and initiatives available to serve traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers. Igalious Mills said the issue today is getting the information to those most in need.
"If you don't know about the program, obviously you're not going to be able to participate in it," Igalious Mills said.
So Igalious Mills is traveling the state meeting with organizations like the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization. Its purpose it to bring equality to the historically under-represented agriculturist. Roy Mills serves as president for Region 3 of Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers CBO and hears often from his brother.
"He sends me an e-mail or something that happened in Washington every day," Roy Mills said. "And that's critical for us to know."
A recent initiative is how to export products.
"What you can sale across the street, you can sale in another country," Igalious Mills said.
Another is to get local produce into local schools.
Igalious Mills said believes the most valuable part of his volunteer service is to hear what minority farmers have to say about their needs.
"That's our main mission," Igalious Mill said. "How do we make these programs better?"
The Mills contend knowledge is power, so the brothers will work together to provide a voice for information to the ones they serve.
Historically, under-served farmers and ranchers include, in part, women, African-Americans, Hispanic, Asians and American Indians.