I honestly didn’t think I’d be writing 3-Parts to support that it isn’t okay to give black people money. The pandemic is trying to do right by black folks but it only takes an individual or two to put a squash on the whole thing.
Part 3 focuses on the black farmer. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan slated approximately $4 billion to go to disadvantaged farmers, primarily for debt relief, but also for grants, training and education. Although only about a quarter of disadvantaged farmers are Black, that’s enough for white farmers to file a court case to stop the program in its tracks.
Their logic is that this program is discriminatory because it bases eligibility for loan forgiveness solely on the basis of being a member of a minority group, regardless of your circumstances. If you’re a white farmer, regardless of your circumstances, you are categorically ineligible.
However, the folks who penned the bill say that during the pandemic, socially disadvantaged communities dealt with disproportionately higher share of Covid-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, death and economic pain. Previous rounds of Covid-19 stimulus to farmers included significant gaps and disparities in the level of assistance. In fact, white farmers received nearly $9.7 billion in pandemic relief in October of 2020 and socially disadvantaged farmers received less than 1 percent of that money.
The debt cancellation provisions in the American Rescue Plan were inspired by legislation called the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2021. That bill provided debt cancellation, federal and state tax relief, and the return of offsets to Black farmers who participated in disastrous racial discrimination lawsuits in the 1990s, which “left the vast majority of Black farmers, over 22,000, in unconscionable debt, threat of foreclosure, and no legal recourse to save their family farms.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard halted loan forgiveness payments and debt relief for disadvantaged farmers anywhere in the United States. The lawsuit was filed by one guy, white farmer Scott Wynn of Jennings, Fla. The judge says, “it appears Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.”
Black farmers in America have lost more than 12 million acres of farmland over the past century, a result of what agricultural experts and advocates for Black farmers say is a combination of systemic racism, biased government policy, and social and business practices that have denied Black Americans equitable access to markets.
It appears someone took great care in snatching those 12 million acres from black farmers.
Who knows what Part 4 will bring.