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COVID-19 Stimulus Bill To Provide $4 Billion in Debt Relief for Black Farmers, Other Farmers of Color

The legislation would forgive loans held by producers who have been racially discriminated against by the federal government, a long-sought win for civil rights advocates.

Quietly nestled in the latest Covid-19 relief package is a consequential provision that would cancel billions of dollars of debt held by farmers of color—a move that would provide long-sought relief to agricultural producers who have experienced discrimination, including at the hands of federal lenders. 

The American Rescue Plan, which passed in the Senate on Saturday and awaits an imminent final vote in the House would earmark $4 billion in debt relief for “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,” defined as “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice.” The legislation directs the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make payments to those farmers equal to 120 percent of all direct loans and loans backed by the agency. The additional funds are meant to cover tax implications of the debt relief, the Food & Environment Reporting Network reported.