Many Black farmers felt a sense of relief when a debt forgiveness program specifically for minority farmers was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
In the plan, which was signed into law last March, section 1005 includes provisions meant to provide debt relief to Black farmers and other farmers of color who have long been discriminated against by the U.S.Department of Agriculture(USDA).
However, a key provision in the new Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which just passed in the Senate and is expected to become law is causing concern for the future of their livelihoods. The act will offer sweeping economic and climate reforms, including domestic energy production and manufacturing investment, lower prescription costs for seniors, and reducing carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
But, it won’t have a program dedicated to addressing the discrimination faced by Black farmers and other farmers of color, as section 2208 of the inflation reduction act will give USDA the authority to aid borrowers of all races and provided additional aid to victims of past discrimination.
“I’m very, very disappointed in this legislative action,” said National Black Farmers Association President John Boyd in a release shared with ESSENCE. “I’m prepared to fight for debt relief for Black, Native American and other farmers of color all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not going to stop fighting this,” he added.
According to Boyd, section 2208 of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 repeals The American Rescue Plan Act, which has recently come up against several challenges, including lawsuits by white farmers. They claim that forgiving loans for farmers based on race is unconstitutional.
“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.”
The National Black Farmers Association is calling on fellow farmers and their supporters to join Boyd in his call for President Joe Biden to issue a farm foreclosure moratorium to save American Farmers. They are asking to be granted foreclosure protection while legislative remedies are being debated in Congress.