In just one month, a proposal for $4 billion in debt relief for Black and other socially disadvantaged farmers went from just-introduced legislation to a near-reality, needing only a final vote in the House as early as Tuesday. The Democrat-authored initiative to retire the farmers' debts on USDA loans is part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan backed by President Biden.
For Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves in the United States, an organization known as A Growing Culture hosted a day-long internet broadcast on Friday featuring the voices of black farmers and gardeners and the fight in black communities for a just food system.(No paywall)
The National Farmers Union was the first major farm group to call for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. A handful of groups said this week that they stand in solidarity with protests nationwide against racism and inequality that were sparked by Floyd's death. (No paywall)
Leah Penniman is co-director and program manager of the 72-acre Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, which is dedicated to training a new generation of black, brown, and indigenous farmers while working to dismantle racism and injustice in the food system. Her new book, “Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land,” is a first-of-its-kind guide for farmers of color. (No paywall)
Steve Vaden is wearing two hats at USDA: He's the White House nominee to become the department's top lawyer, known as the general counsel, and he is effectively leading the legal shop as the principal deputy general counsel. Politico says morale "has plummeted" because Vaden "is enforcing workplace changes that have provoked unusually bitter labor negotiations" and because of his record in private practice defending state voter ID laws that were challenged as racially discriminatory.
African-American farmers lost millions of acres of land across the South as a result of an obscure legal provision that is only now being corrected in state legislatures around the country, according to FERN’s latest story by Leah Douglas produced in partnership with The Nation magazine. (No Paywall)
"If organic farming is at the forefront of American agriculture, many black farmers are still catching up," says Civil Eats, citing USDA surveys that found 116 black-owned farms among 14,093 certified organic farms.