STATEMENT: The USDA’s Debt Relief Program for Farmers of Color Should Be Quickly Reinstated
Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, a federal judge in Wisconsin issued a restraining order on $4 billion of debt relief that was part of a program designed to help Black and other farmers of color as part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. Following the decision, Nicole Lee Ndumele, vice president for Racial Equity and Justice at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Decades of structural racism within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have dispossessed farmers of color of their land and their livelihoods. When the pandemic hit, the systemic disadvantages that Black farmers faced continued. White farmers received 99 percent of COVID-19 relief, while Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American farmers received just 1 percent of COVID-19 aid intended for agricultural producers.
By including specific aid designated for farmers of color in the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration was not only addressing historic and modern-day inequities but also directing agricultural stimulus money to some of the farmers who need it most. Farmers of color are disproportionately small producers, so this debt relief was going directly to smaller family farms. This program provides a crucial lifeline to some of the most vulnerable farms in the country while taking an important step toward closing inequities in USDA programs. The program should be quickly reinstated.
Related resource: “Progressive Governance Can Turn the Tide for Black Farmers” by Abril Castro and Zoe Willingham
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