In FERN's latest piece, produced in partnership with NPR's Climate Desk, Amy Mayer scrutinizes the likelihood that USDA's climate-smart partnerships will meet its ambitious equity goals.
On a vote that largely followed party lines, the Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican attempt to overturn a USDA rule against discrimination in school food programs on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. “This whole exercise is nothing more than a political stunt using children, as I said before, to stoke up their culture wars,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow.
Some 600,000 parents and young children would be denied WIC benefits under USDA funding bills pending in the House and Senate, said the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday. “The eligible people who would be put on waiting lists are disproportionately in Black and Hispanic families,” said a CBPP blog.
Federally subsidized crop insurance is the dominant farm support, but socially disadvantaged farmers are far less likely than white farmers to participate in those programs, said a free-market think tank on Tuesday. Agriculture is an overwhelmingly white occupation in the United States, and the portion of mid-size and large farms—the major beneficiaries of crop insurance — operated by whites is even larger.
The Agriculture Department is taking applications from farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners for a share of a $2.2 billion fund to compensate victims of discrimination in USDA farm lending programs.
On Earth Day, President Biden signed an executive order making environmental justice — the fair treatment of all people in the development and enforcement of environmental policies — part of the everyday work of federal agencies.
For decades, the USDA has been accused of racial and gender discrimination in its programs, hiring and employment practices, and it has been subject to both class action lawsuits and settlements. A hearing on Tuesday examined shortcomings in its handling of civil rights complaints and explored paths toward improvement. (No paywall)
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.
The Environmental Protection Agency has notified North Carolina civil rights groups that it will investigate whether state regulators discriminated against communities of color when they approved four applications to convert hog waste into fuel. (No paywall)
After referring to USDA's self-admitted history of racial discrimination, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said a 15-member Equity Commission would try "to prevent wrongs in the future." The commission met for the first time on Monday, the final day of Black History Month.
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.
With a historic program to provide debt relief for farmers of color tied up in litigation, the Biden administration and Congress must use additional tools to get financial support to struggling farmers, experts say. Though they remain confident in USDA’s support of the program, attorneys, …
President Biden's nominee to oversee the 193 million-acre national forest system said on Thursday that he would focus on wildfire management and prevention and on eradicating racial and sexual discrimination at the Forest Service. "If confirmed, I will be the person responsible for providing leadership to ensure that everyone is treated fairly," said Homer Wilkes, a 41-year USDA employee.
A federal judge in Fort Worth agreed with white farmers that they were unfairly excluded by Congress from a loan forgiveness program for socially disadvantaged farmers and issued a preliminary injunction that bars the USDA “from discriminating on account of race or ethnicity” in running the …
China would be barred from buying more U.S. farmland and the land already in its possession would become ineligible for farm subsidies under language approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. On a voice vote, the provision was added to a $197 billion USDA-FDA funding bill headed for a vote on the House floor.
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."
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.
The USDA would be obliged to disclose the race and gender of farm subsidy recipients as well as how much money they received under companion bills filed by two Black members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees on Wednesday.