Black Farmer Relief Bill Stalled In Legal Battle

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When Black farmers sued the federal government for failing to follow through on historic aid, federal officials pointed to funds in the Inflation Reduction Act as another means of providing support. But it remains unclear how much money will go to Black farmers.

On Tuesday, the USDA announced a new program providing $1.3 billion in relief for 36,000 farmers facing foreclosure or otherwise behind in payments. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 11,000 farmers who received direct loans and were more than 60 days behind on payments will receive direct payments.

The USDA estimates that 115,000 farmers who cannot otherwise get commercial credit benefit from their programs. An additional $500 million will be distributed to support distressed borrowers.

So far, there has been little public-facing information from the USDA about the aid will benefit Black farmers specifically. Last week Black farmer filed a lawsuit challenging the broken promise of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s appointment raised eyebrows with many, including Black farmers, who saw him as an obstacle to addressing long-held concerns. Marcia Fudge, who currently serves as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was the chosen candidate to lead the USDA for many civil rights leaders and advocates.

Doesn’t replace historic support promised to Black farmers

Targeted loan forgiveness promised to Black and other disadvantaged farmers was sidelined by lawsuits brought by conservative groups. As previously reported by NewsOne, the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act passed as a part of the landmark American Rescue Plan in early 2021.

But far-right groups swooped in, claiming the aid amounted to reverse racism. The same groups were noticeably silent about aid under the Trump administration. During the pandemic, aid released by the Trump administration overwhelmingly benefited white farmers. With over 97 percent of aid benefiting white farmers, the Environmental Working Group reviewed USDA data finding that the average white farmer received $3,398 and the average Black farmer received $422.

Last fall, Black farmers asked a district court for permission to intervene in the lawsuits because they believed the USDA

While the aid provided through the Inflation Reduction Act is certainly important, it is unclear if issues within how funding has been given to farmers have been addressed. Continuing to ignore the disparities in the program and mechanisms administered by the USDA

And even if there is concern about how courts might treat efforts addressing ongoing racial disparities through targeted aid and programs, something has to be done. It’s not enough to simply shift to funding mechanisms that have historically disadvantaged Black and other farmers of color.


Black Farmers Ask Court To Join Lawsuit Challenging Historic Aid Program Meant To Address Longstanding Discrimination

Federal Judge Pauses Historic Funding For Black Farmers Because White Farmers Think It’s Racist

Black Farmers May Finally Get Relief With Two New Legislative Proposals

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