Covid relief bill may include repairs for farmers of color

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The Covid Relief Program provides a platform for a historic newcomer to the Senate for a long-struggling constituency: black farmers. Led by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Senate Democrats are touting a $ 5 billion provision in the relief bill that will erase federal debts from farmers of color and invest in reforms to help these farmers create a generational wealth by keeping their family farms. in the family.

In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Warnock celebrated the inclusion of the Colored Farmers Emergency Relief Act in the $ 1.9 trillion Covid package. Warnock said Democrats were acting to “ensure fairness in our recovery efforts and address long-standing injustices that have left some communities behind for far too long.” Newly elected Warnock, who is Georgia’s first black senator to sit, stressed that this federal aid “will not only help farmers of color, but will also increase the economies of our rural communities as they struggle to recover from the economic downturn. “.

Black farmers have long faced overt and systemic racism, not only from private lenders, but also from the federal government. (The class action Pigford settlements between the USDA and black farmers covered pervasive civil rights violations from 1983 to 2010.) Due to this discrimination and other factors, many small black-owned farms did not have acts and clear ownership structures that allow them to be passed on in tact, often creating fractional ownership that hinders operations or facilitates the selection of farms for predatory lenders and / or for consolidation by agribusinesses.

Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Is Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with oversight of this issue. She congratulated her new colleague for his leadership. “I want to thank Senator Warnock for coming and working with me to accept this and get it through immediately. Democrats have often been reluctant to tout programs specifically aimed at communities of color, but Stabenow has shown no reluctance, even calling the provision “an important part of repairs. ”

Stabenow pointed to a long decline in black farm ownership, from a peak of 14% in the 1920s to just 2% of American farms today. “When you look at one of the very first forms of racial discrimination after the legal abolition of slavery, it was the lack of support for black farmers,” she said, “of people discriminated against in terms of land ownership”. She claimed the aid funding would “eliminate all USDA loans and related taxes and penalties for black farmers and other farmers of color,” as well as $ 1 billion for Cory Booker-backed efforts. (DN.J.) to facilitate the generational transfer. of wealth between black owners of family farms and their heirs. Stabenow insisted this was just one of Democrats’ efforts to address “long-standing areas of discrimination and racial disparity regarding land ownership and farmers, especially in the South”.

In recent days, Covid’s massive relief program has seen a major setback, with the $ 15 minimum wage being struck off the bill by the parliamentarian of the Senate. Seeking to rally discouraged liberals, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed to provisions such as debt relief for black farmers to insist the Covid relief plan will be “the most thing. progressive that we have had for decades “.


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