While politicians are praising the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which the senate approved on Aug. 7, Black farmers are displeased.
The head of the National Black Farmers Association has issued a press release condemning the act’s elimination of a debt relief program for farmers of color that was enacted in 2021. The reparations program was built into President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to counter generations of systemic racism against Black farmers.
The NBFA, a non-profit community organization, was founded in February of 1995 by John Boyd, Jr., of Baskerville, Virginia, a third-generation farmer. Boyd started the association for farmers like himself who were trying to save their farms from foreclosure caused by longtime racial discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The association says it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide and its advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, among other issues.
“I’m very, very disappointed in this legislative action,” said Boyd in a release. “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.”
The debt forgiveness program specifically for minority farmers was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law last March.
Now, a key provision in the new Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which is expected to become law, gets rid of this provision. While act will offer far-reaching economic and climate reforms, including lower prescription costs for seniors, it won’t have a program to address the discrimination faced by Black and other farmers of color.
Section 2208 of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 repeals The American Rescue Plan Act. The act got pushback from white-owned farms who filed a lawsuit who claimed that forgiving loans based on race is unconstitutional.
Black-owned farms said the debt relief was more than needed and was repair for past injustices. Black farmers have been suing the federal government for decades over claims of continuing discrimination in Department of Agriculture programs. Simultaneously, their numbers have been dropping. In 1920, the USDA counted 925,708 Black farmers, or about 14 percent of the total at the time. By 2017, there were 45,508 Black farmers — roughly 1.3 percent of all 3.4 million, according to a recent USDA Census of Agriculture.
“Discrimination at USDA against Black Farmers was rampant and severe. The Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist,” said Boyd.
The NBFA wants Biden to issue a farm foreclosure moratorium to save American farms.
Photo: John Boyd, President and Founder, National Black Farmers Association, https://www.johnboydjr.com/