Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Black Farmers Fear Foreclosure as Debt Relief Remains Frozen

Lawsuits from white farmers have blocked $4 billion of pandemic aid that was allocated to Black farmers in the American Rescue Plan.

For Brandon Smith, a fourth-generation cattle rancher from Texas, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that President Biden signed into law nearly a year ago was long-awaited relief.

Little did he know how much longer he would have to wait.

The legislation included $4 billion of debt forgiveness for Black and other “socially disadvantaged” farmers, a group that has endured decades of discrimination from banks and the federal government. Mr. Smith, a Black father of four who owes about $200,000 in outstanding loans on his ranch, quickly signed and returned documents to the Agriculture Department last year, formally accepting the debt relief. He then purchased more equipment for his ranch, believing that he had been given a financial lifeline.

Instead, Mr. Smith has fallen deeper into debt. Months after signing the paperwork he received a notice informing him that the federal government intended to “accelerate” foreclosure on his 46-acre property and cattle if he did not start making payments on the loans he believed had been forgiven.