New legislation introduced this week aims to address ongoing harms to Black farmers. Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock introduced the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act earmarking $5 Billion in financial support for Black and other farmers of color.
A part of the pending $1.9 trillion COVID-19 pandemic relief bill, the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act would provide $4 billion in direct cash payments to farmers of color. Funds can be used for paying off outstanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm loan debts and/or related taxes as well as help farmers meet the economic challenges of the pandemic.
It would set aside another $1 billion to support programming at the USDA to “root out systemic racism, provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color and fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color.”
Appointed to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Warnock also joined senate colleagues, including Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren in sponsoring the Justice for Black Farmers Act. Originally introduced last year, the Justice for Black Farmers Act is in line with the Biden administration’s promise to promote racial equity across all government agencies and dismantle systemic racism.
The National Black Farmers Association and the Environmental Working Group issued a joint statement applauding the legislation. “By providing new oversight and accountability within the USDA, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help address the roots of the USDA’s racist history,” the statement said in part.
The organizations previously launched an interactive timeline of the USDA’s discrimination and disinvestment in Black farmers.
In November, the Black Professionals in Food and Agriculture called on Biden to implement several reforms within the USDA, including diversity and inclusion measures in the USDA’s political staffing and mandatory diversity and inclusion training.
For some, President Joe Biden’s nomination of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture was not quite in line with his expressed commitment to equity and justice. Vilsack served as USDA secretary during the Obama Administration. As reported by ABC News, some Black farmers fault Vilsack for failures to address a backlog of discrimination complaints during his tenure.
“We have already seen what Vilsack is going to do. We don’t have a prayer if he gets in there,” Rod Bradshaw a 67-year-old Black farmer who raises wheat, cattle and milo on 2,000 acres near Jetmore, Kansas, told ABC News.
Vilsack’s refusal to review the full evidence before firing Sherrod from her role as the USDA’s Georgia Rural Development Director is a glaring issue for some in regards to his ability to lead an agency in this new chapter.
Several groups including the NAACP and industry advocates actively opposed Vilsack’s appointment, lobbying instead for former Rep. Marcia Fudge to take on the role. Fudge was instead nominated to serve as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her confirmation awaits a full Senate vote.
While Vilsack has pledged to address issues in the agency including his own prior missteps, it is yet to be seen what his leadership will yield this time around.
Here Are All The Black People In Joe Biden's Cabinet And His Most Senior Advisers
1. Adewale Adeyemo, Deputy Treasury SecretarySource:Twitter 1 of 19
2. Gen. Lloyd Austin, Department of DefenseSource:Getty 2 of 19
3. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, vice chair of the Democratic National CommitteeSource:Getty 3 of 19
4. Kirsten Clarke, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights DivisionSource:Getty 4 of 19
5. Ashley Etienne, Kamala Harris’ Chief Communications Director5 of 19
6. Tina Flournoy, Vice President's Chief Of Staff6 of 19
7. Rep. Marcia Fudge, Housing and Urban DevelopmentSource:Getty 7 of 19
8. Joelle Gamble, National Economic CouncilSource:Courtesy of Biden-Harris Transition Team 8 of 19
9. Shuwanza Goff, Deputy Director Of The White House Office Of Legislative AffairsSource:Joe Biden Communications Coalitions 9 of 19
10. Jamie Harrison, DNC ChairSource:Getty 10 of 19
11. Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Deputy Press SecretarySource:Getty 11 of 19
12. Brenda Mallory, Council on Environmental Quality ChairpersonSource:Getty 12 of 19
13. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair of Biden's Coronavirus Task Force13 of 19
14. Michael Regan, EPA14 of 19
15. Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Council DirectorSource:Getty 15 of 19
16. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 16 of 19
17. Cecilia Rouse, Council of Economic Advisors chairpersonSource:Getty 17 of 19
18. Symone Sanders, Vice President's spokesperson18 of 19
19. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN AmbassadorSource:Getty 19 of 19
Black Farmers May Finally Get Relief With Two New Legislative Proposals was originally published on newsone.com