On Wednesday, Congress passed one of the most sweeping relief programs for minority farmers in the nation’s history, through a provision of President Biden’s pandemic stimulus bill. Although the landmark legislation, which would cancel $4 billion worth of debt, seemed to emerge out of nowhere, it actually is the result of more than 20 years of organizing by Black farmers.
The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act will forgive 120 percent of the value of loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or from private lenders and guaranteed by the USDA, to “Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic farmers and other agricultural producers of color,” according to a release from the bill’s sponsors, Senators Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
Advocacy groups say the debt relief will begin to rectify decades of broken promises and discrimination from the USDA that caused Black farmers to lose roughly 90 percent of their land between 1910 and today.
Although the program will be administered as pandemic relief — and apply to all farmers of color — the intellectual f... Read more