Let’s Talk About Black Farmers
In the recent 1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan 2021 that was passed, I noticed a section for Black Farmers. Many people were calling it “reparations.” There is something I noticed in the bill that was very alarming. The agricultural provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriated 10.4 billion dollars for the following, 1) animal surveillance or COVD-19 mitigation efforts for agricultural workers; 2) additional resources to purchase and distribute agricultural commodities to nonprofits, 3) restaurants or other food-related entities; 4) increase access to health care in rural communities; and 5) provide debt relief and other support programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
According to Professor William Sandy Darity, of Duke University, “The best estimates I have seen of the economic loss to Black farmers due to USDA policies and overall processes of land appropriation by Whites has been between $250 and $350 billion. This is approximately 10 percent of total Black wealth in the U.S., about $2.5 trillion,” he said. Dr. Darity is the leading economist on Reparations for the descendants of American chattel slavery. He further stated “The notion that this approaches a program of reparations is nonsense. Reparations for Black American descendants of slavery must be designed to eliminate the gulf in Black and White wealth.”
The act appropriates $3 billion of those funds specifically to socially disadvantaged farmers. Which will be used to clear 120% of their accrued debt. These farmers are Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, and socially disadvantaged people. 100% of their debt will be cleared and 20% of their taxes will also be cleared. In that same package, 1 billion dollars is also allocated toward outreach, training, education, technical assistance, grants and loans, and funding to educational institutions to help improve land access for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and address heir’s property issues, among other issues.
Now, all of this would seem great and sounds good to someone who is newly aware and didn’t know anything about Black farmers in the United States. But, this is why it’s alarming. According to The Counter’s investigation, Black farmers lost more than 90 percent of the land they owned between 1910 and 1997, while white farmers only lost 2 percent. Pigford I and II, two class-action lawsuits against the USDA, paid out $2.3 billion to Black farmers who alleged racial discrimination in the department’s allocation of farm loans and assistance beginning in 1983. The aid was supposed to help the black farmers. But they needed to create improved legislation. Ultimately, the Justice for Black Farmers Bill was developed. The bill is summarized below.
Justice For Black Farmers Act
- 500 million would have been awarded to 19 land grant HBCUs,
- 20 million dollars for scholarships to aspiring black farmers at an 1890 land grant school,
- Creating an equity commission to study the legacy of discrimination against black farmers,
- Require USDA to make public records of those receiving assistance,
- USDA shall purchase land from willing sellers for black farmers of up to 160 acres at no cost,
- Create a maximum of 200,000 black farmers in 10 years, USDA operating loan with 0% interest for 7 years,
- Farming training for someone 21 and older at no cost,
- Farm corps program including housing, payments, clothing, medical, transportation, and payment.
The JFBFA was condensed and added to the Rescue Act. This move, released last week was not sufficient, in fact, it was a slap in the face to those who were supposed to be helped- working farmers and those who aim to be. I am disgruntled because I have been researching and teaching people about this bill for months and now it finally happens. Friends of mine sent it to me in a celebratory spirit not realizing the flaws in it. People have people calling it reparations which only makes things worse.
The more I analyze everything, one realizes what should be and what could be done to really help black farmers and HBCUs as was in the original bill. I have drawn a few analyses and I hope you like them. Over the past few months my organization, Millennial Juneteenth, has been conducting research and we created a new plan. This new plan helps give black farmers stability but also this new bill helps people who are economically disenfranchised find themselves and give them a pathway to success.
New Black Farmers & Free HBCU Plan
- Creation of 2 million Black farmers 50%of the Market
- Contact HBCU alumni to pay 3k for 30 credit course for land (homestead act)
- 1.5 million in donations to program per 500 alumni
- Total funds created goes to Freedman Bureau
- Add hemp and marijuana training programs
- Add solar and indoor farming
- HBCUs would receive yearly funding of 2.5- 3 billion annual
This plan is much more substantial. would be something transformative in politics for Black people. In fact, Black Americans have been and are the most progressive people in this country but our ideas have been silenced. We would create jobs in the farming industry for Black people, create indoor farming since many of us live in urban areas, would grow hemp and marijuana (two popular and profitable crops), target alumni and people from the community for the program. Similar to the Homestead Act, granting up to 160 acres for those who were not traitors of the nation. We would be able to tax our Black farmers so we can create our renewed Freedman Bank and distribute funds to our communities for resourceful programming.
When reviewing the Justice for Black Farmers Bill, the Homestead Act, and Both of the Morril Acts of 1862 and 1890 it makes the case for itself. When we speak of transforming the lives of those descendants of the people who built this nation for free.
Farming is something that is owed. Black folks have lost over 15 million acres of land and over 900,000 farmers over the last 100 years. Farming is something our people have known but also it makes us a producing people. You need air, water, and food. Farming Provides food for people to eat. We must get this right and free our HBCU’s and Free our people. Please stop calling every piece of money black folks receive from the government “reparations.” It’s disrespectful.
In closing as we fight for the betterment of our people we must be active on all levels and remember the end game without reparative justice we are set to be a wealthless group of people by 2053 pre covid. Let’s get it right this time. People, time is ticking. Reparations, HBCU’s, and Black Farming are talking points from politicians without anything tangible to follow up.
Lindsey Graham, US Senator from SC, said on Fox News “In this bill, if you’re a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent … if you’re African American, some other minority,” Graham. “But if you’re a white person … no forgiveness.” This is not true because socially disadvantaged farmers are all farmers who are in a financial whole they all can make a claim for debt relief. Hence the name Socially disadvantaged farmers. according to estimates from the Farm Bureau, an industry organization. About a quarter of disadvantaged farmers are Black. However the major debt collectors of the 3 billion dollars are the following companies: USDA Farm Service Agency direct farm loans, USDA guaranteed loans and Commodity Credit Corporation farm storage loans, among others. Which have historically worked with white farmers. Therefore, let’s all be honest the majority of the 3 billion dollars will be split up amongst each group but 98% of the farming market is white-owned which means there will be many white “socially disadvantaged farmers”.