What Black Farmers Have Said About The Inflation Reduction Act Will..
Black farmers are starting to wonder if they will receive the debt forgiveness they had been promised after a measure passed last year to prioritize them for such action.
When the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act passed last year with the American Rescue Plan, it provided $4 billion in debt forgiveness to farmers of color from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“This is a big deal for us,” John Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, told CBS MoneyWatch. “We see this as a great opportunity to help thousands.”
The concept was met with pushback, and white farmers brought forward at least six federal lawsuits against the measure since it didn’t allow them to try to receive the funds due to their racial group. Those suits are still pending.
The debt forgiveness measure, however, was taken out of the inflation act before many farmers could get the money. The new Inflation Reduction Act gives $3.1 billion to “distressed borrowers” and an additional $2.2 billion to farmers who have “experienced discrimination” from the USDA while taking race off as a measure of eligibility.
In a release, Boyd said he was “very, very disappointed in this legislative action” after reviewing the final legislation passed by the Senate.
“I’m prepared to fight for debt relief for Black, Native American and other farmers of color to the Supreme Court. I’m not going to stop fighting this,” he said, adding, “Discrimination at USDA against Black Farmers was rampant and severe. Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist.”
“That’s a broken promise and a broken contract between the U.S. government and Black farmers,” he said. “It’s a huge loss for us and other Black farmers who have been waiting on this.”
Boyd wants President Joe Biden to put forward a moratorium on farm foreclosures.
“That’s the least he can do,” he said. “A farmer shouldn’t be losing his farm.”