Black Farmers Are Still Left Out

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine) – President Biden and his administration is forgiving loans to Black farmers. Biden is attempting to make up for tens of years of racial discrimination. However, Black farmers are saying that that plan isn’t going to fix the Agriculture Department programs.

According to a Politico analysis, the Agriculture Department granted loans “to only 37 percent of Black applicants last year in one program.” However, 71 percent of program applications were accepted from white farmers. 

There was help given to farmers during the pandemic. However, Black farmers received less than one percent “even though they are five percent of all U.S. Farmers.”

In addition to debts, there have been other barriers that have needed to be addressed. There are large loan terms that seem to favor only big, wealthy farms.

Tracy Lloyd Mc Curty is the executive director of the Black Belt Justice Center, which is a legal and advocacy nonprofit that represents Black farmers. Mc Curty said, “This data affirms what our elder farmers have been saying about the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades.” Mc Curty continued by saying, “It reveals the abysmal failures of previous legal settlements in dismantling pervasive racial discrimination.”

President Biden has said that he will combat racial discrimination. America will watch as his administration approaches USDA lending.

“The plan to use $4 billion from the recent coronavirus aid package to forgive loans to farmers of color is now tied up in legal challenges filed by white farmers.” Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, will still have a huge task of “overhauling entrenched practices and convincing Black farmers and their advocates that change has come.”

Vilsack told reporters in May, “The American Rescue Plan’s effort is to begin addressing the cumulative effect of that discrimination in terms of socially disadvantaged producers. I think there is a very legitimate reason for doing what we are doing. I think it has to be complemented with additional steps.”

All of USDA’s agencies and programs are being reviewed by an internal working group. This group will examine and decide how to better provide technical assistance “for socially disadvantaged and local producers.” Hopefully, this working group will help and make better the access to land and markets.

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