Black farmers suing Biden for debt relief promised last year

Lashaun Turner

Black farmers were to receive billions of dollars in debt forgiveness as part of the American Rescue Plan.
-Black Man in Agricultural FieldPhoto

In March 2021, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package. Section 1005 of the package formally known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), directed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide up to 120 percent of any outstanding loan balance debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who are from racially marginalized or ethnic minority communities.

At the time this was talked upon as almost reparations for Black farmers with $5 billion set aside for loan forgiveness. The USDA put out a statement at the time that said in part:

For much of the history of the USDA, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have faced discrimination—sometimes overt and sometimes through deeply embedded rules and policies—that have prevented them from achieving as much as their counterparts who do not face these documented acts of discrimination. USDA

The USDA in the statement also said the American Rescue Plan “now begins to address the systemic and cumulative impacts of discrimination” that occurred over decades.

Why Black farmers haven’t received debt relief promised by Biden Administration

A group of White farmers sued claiming the program discriminated against them.

The USDA has broadly defined the term "socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher" as "those who identify as one or more of the following, black, American Indian, Alaska native, Hispanic, Asian, and Hawaiian Pacific Islander. From our client's perspective, that is essentially present discrimination that is intended to remedy past discrimination and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause doesn't allow that to kind of roll -Source James Dickey

While the class action is still pending, the Biden Administration re-worked the language to no longer mention race. Instead saying, the legislation “provides loan relief for distressed borrowers and additional aid for farmers, ranchers, and foresters who have experienced discrimination”.

Congress amended the law and allocated $3.1 billion to help farmers struggling with USDA-backed loans and $2.2 billion to pay farmers who the agency discriminated against. (Source)

“When you put Black farmers in with everybody, we come up last based on all the numbers and all the history,” said John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association.

John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers told the Associated Press that "the new changes don’t match the USDA’s earlier offer to pay off 120% of the debt of farmers who are socially disadvantaged". Boyd and a group of farmers have recently filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government.

Attorney Ben Crump tweeted earlier this month, “farmers of color were promised $5B in debt relief as part of the COVID-19 stimulus package — but now the government is breaking its promise! These farmers have been victimized by racial prejudice for years, & we will fight to demand they receive the relief!

Additional Sources:

USDA Farm Service Agency

Bloomberg Law

Associated Press

Comments / 24

Published by

Lashaun is a Journalist, Reporter, and Viral Content Creator covering Local Stories, Food, Crime, Politics, & Travel with NEWSBREAK since June 2021.- JADED: Journalism with a Touch of Shade is Lashaun's views and opinions on various trending topics. Lashaun aka Lady I.M.PRE$S is a former NBC/CNBC Affiliate KCAA Broadcaster for "Cali's BEST" Radio Show airing on 102.3FM & 106.5FM from 2016-2020. Lashaun has been in the Media & P.R field for over 11 years and has interviewed an estimated 20k Celebrities and Entrepreneurs. Lashaun also produced & hosted Blaze Indie L.A TV show on LA's Channel 36 from 2014-2016

Los Angeles, CA

More from Lashaun Turner

Comments / 0