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Father and son farmers conversing among rows of sweet potatoes

Source: Andy Sacks / Getty

Early last year, Black Farmers were rewarded $4 billion in federal funds.  The money has not been distributed due to a lawsuit for reverse discrimination filed by white farmers. National Black Farmers Association President Dr. John Boyd, Jr. says the money is a ‘do or die’ situation for some of them.  Last March, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion federal spending package that included The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act.  The USDA was to forgive $4 billion in direct or guaranteed loans given to farmers of color and was to provide $1 billion for farmer grants, college scholarships and other efforts for minority growers.

By 1910, Black farmers owned more than 16 million acres of land.  According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Black farmers have decreased from 14 percent (1910) to only 2% (2017). In a 1999 class action lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, the USDA settled and agreed to pay Black farmers more than $1 billion after being accused of decades of racial discrimination. A new commission to combat decades of discrimination by the USDA was  announced this week however black farmers and their supporters are not impressed and feel that the commission will not do enough.

Boyd, a fourth generation farmer in Virginia, says that he has been trying to get a meeting with President Biden.  He says that ‘he is not going away’ until the funding is provided.