Illustration of a close-up of speech bubbles on screen with a blue background.
(Getty Images)
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Listen to the trailer for Season 3 of The Heist. Subscribe on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google | Stitcher | Pandora

(corral ambi comes up)

It’s a hot Saturday morning in Eastern Oklahoma. This part of the country was once Oklahoma’s Black Belt — a historic center of Black ranching. 

I’m here with a local rancher named Nate Bradford Jr. at his corral: a cluster of pens on rolling, grassy land where he takes care of his cattle.

Today, he and his family are vaccinating and deworming their herd. 

NATE: We’re going bring em through the squeeze chute and give em the, give 

em the meds.

I’ve been talking to Nate for months: learning about his business, his life, his hometown — all to understand something much BIGGER. 

NATE: I would say, what would you guys goal? What would you say ya’ll goal is 

to do what?

APRIL: Well, I’d say I wanna tell a good story, like a real story that hits on a lot of the systemic problems that we know exist. in the USDA and just in agriculture.

NATE: Cool.

I’m April Simpson. Coming soon from The Center for Public Integrity …Season Three of The Heist.

This season, we’re focusing on a heist of land — and wealth — from America’s Black farmers and ranchers. 

One government department has been at the heart of this heist: the US Department of Agriculture. 

The USDA is supposed to serve ALL farmers and ranchers… to help them feed the country. 

But there are decades of evidence showing that the USDA has instead pushed Black farmers out of business… and off of their land. 

And I’m trying to figure out whether that discrimination is still happening today. 

Which led me to eastern Oklahoma and Nate Bradford…who has been battling with the USDA for TWO DECADES… That fight has put his home, his land, and his livelihood at risk…

APRIL: What do you want? What’s your goal? 

NATE: Man. My goal is to be a full time rancher. My goal is to you know, get, you know, the message out there there’s a lot of people going out of business right now.

This season, Nate’s fight to make it as a rancher…and OUR quest to better understand how the department is treating Black farmers nationwide.

Look for Season Three of The Heist wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.