black farmers

Lawsuit seeks to restore U.S. aid for Black farmers

The government must honor its 2021 offer of $4 billion in loan forgiveness to Black and other socially disadvantaged farmers, even though Congress repealed the aid program this summer, said a class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, likened the situation to the loss of assistance to Black farmers after the Civil War.

Vilsack: We will act quickly on aid to financially distressed farmers

A congressionally created $3.1 billion debt relief program for financially distressed farmers who borrowed money through USDA programs could be in place within weeks, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Speed is vital, he said, because a moratorium on debt collections and foreclosures could expire in October.

USDA names equity panel members; former union leader will be co-chair

The congressionally approved Equity Commission that will address racial discrimination at the USDA will have Arturo Rodriguez, former president of the United Farm Workers union, as one of its leaders, announced the Agriculture Department on Thursday.

New proposal in Congress on debt relief for ‘limited-resource’ farmers

Stymied by lawsuits that contend USDA debt relief for farmers of color is actually reverse discrimination, House Democrats proposed an alternative: full or partial forgiveness of USDA loans to limited-resource farmers. The multi-billion-dollar proposal, which does not mention race, is directed toward economically distressed farmers and ranchers in high-poverty areas.

Equity Commission to examine USDA programs and policies for bias

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh will co-chair a congressionally approved Equity Commission to address racial discrimination within the USDA and its programs, announced the Agriculture Department. The USDA has been called "the last plantation" because of racial bias in its operations; it paid $2.2 billion to Black farmers and their descendants in the so-called Pigford settlements of 1999 and 2010.

Vilsack calls out farmers suing to block debt relief for minority farmers

Lawsuits to block $4 billion in loan forgiveness for minority farmers show a lack of historical awareness, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the BIO online convention on Wednesday. "It's a wonder where those farmers were over the last 100 years, when their Black counterparts were being discriminated against and didn't hear a peep from white farmers about how unfortunate that circumstance was."

Judge: Suit by white farmers might end debt-relief plan for minorities

A dozen white farmers "have established a strong likelihood" that a loan forgiveness program for minority farmers is unconstitutional, said the federal judge hearing the lawsuit in Green Bay, Wisconsin. District judge William Griesbach issued a nationwide order blocking debt-relief payments by USDA while he decides — possibly next week — whether to issue an injunction against the program enacted by Congress in March.

USDA launches loan-forgiveness program for minority farmers

Socially disadvantaged farmers will begin receiving letters this week alerting them of a Biden administration program to pay off loans they owe to the USDA — "historic debt relief" in the words of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Loan forgiveness could total $4 billion by the time, later this year, the government retires bank loans made to minority farmers with USDA loan guarantees.

Trump-backed legal group sues for debt relief for white farmers

With Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller as the plaintiff, a Trump-aligned legal group on Tuesday challenged the $4 billion debt-relief plan approved by Congress for Black and minority farmers, saying it was unconstitutional. "Americans of all races and ethnicities must have the opportunity to receive" USDA loan forgiveness, said America First Legal Foundation in announcing the suit. No paywall

House Ag chairman: Use tax code to encourage purchases from Black farmers

Black farmers "don't have access to the same markets our white farmers have," said House Agriculture chairman David Scott, but the tax code could put them on equal footing. Scott is working on legislation to offer tax incentives to processors and other companies if they buy crops and livestock from Black producers.

House bill would bar racial favoritism at USDA

Motivated by opposition to $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers, two Republican representatives announced legislation on Thursday to prevent the USDA from considering race or gender in operating its programs. "All American farmers constitute a minority, and they are hurting right now as a direct result of the pandemic," said one of the sponsors, Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah.

Debt relief will be distributed as quickly, carefully as possible, says Vilsack

The USDA will disburse up to $4 billion in Biden-backed loan forgiveness to minority farmers as speedily as possible, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the first-ever House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of Black farmers. Farm state Republicans said the debt relief, intended as compensation for decades of racism, was itself discriminatory because white farmers are excluded.

Debt relief is just the first step toward racial equity in agriculture, say senators

The federal promise of $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers, part of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, is a step toward justice, said three Democratic senators on Monday. They said the next step should be passage of legislation to root out …

Biden to sign bill with $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers

With Republicans complaining of discrimination against white farmers, the House passed a coronavirus bill on Wednesday that would provide an estimated $4 billion in debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers.

After 20 years of advocacy, Black farmers finally get debt relief

Congress is poised today to pass 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.(No paywall)

USDA debt relief for minority farmers is a certainty

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.

‘One step closer,’ says Biden as aid bill moves to Senate

A three-month extension of higher SNAP benefits and $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers are in the hands of the Senate following a 219-212 vote by the House over the weekend. "We are one step closer," said President Biden, who used the phrase to describe elements of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, from funds for coronavirus vaccinations and unemployment benefits to "helping millions of Americans feed their families."

House panel to vote on SNAP extension and minority farmer debt relief

Following President Biden's lead, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee proposed an extension until Sept. 30 of the temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits on Tuesday. Chairman David Scott also included a sweeping proposal for the government to pay off USDA loans and USDA-guaranteed loans held by socially disadvantaged farmers "to put our Black farmers in a better position" after decades of discrimination. No paywall

Justice for Black Farmers bill introduced in Senate

Six Democratic senators announced legislation on Monday to end discrimination at USDA and to expand Black-owned farmland by up to 32 million acres through land grants over 10 years. Sponsors include five members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which would handle the bill. “The Justice for …

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