After decades of longstanding racism in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) loan programs, Black farmers stand to lose their farms, land and livelihoods after a temporary injunction halted an estimated $4 billion in emergency relief passed by Congress as part of the American Rescue Act. On World Food Day, as part of the global People’s Food Summit, OCA Political Director Alexis Baden-Mayer interviewed lawyer Tracy McCurty of the Black Belt Justice Center to learn about the Black Farmers’ Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign.
Finally, in 2021, $4 billion in debt relief was passed by Congress as part of the American Rescue Act. Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan, signed into law on March 11, 2021, was designed to provide debt cancellation to Black farmers, and other farmers of color, who have long suffered at the hands of the USDA’s harmful discrimination.
Not a penny of that appropriation has reached Black farmers because the courts have sided with white farmers who claim that such payments would discriminate against them!
Congress could fix this by amending the American Rescue Plan Act to forgive USDA loans for “economically distressed borrowers.” This would end up helping white farmers who didn’t experience racism, but it would still provide Black farmers the relief they need without having to defend it in the courts against reverse-discrimination claims.