The new climate and tax law passed by the Senate will replace the $4 billion program that was drawn to help Black and other “socially disadvantaged” farmers but that never get off the ground, reports the New York Times.
Known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the bill, which passed the Senate this week and is expected to pass the House on Friday, it creates two new funds to assist farmers. One fund would provide financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who faced discrimination. The other fund would provide the Agriculture Department $3.1 billion to make payments for loans or loan modifications to farmers who faced financial distress.
The new program will replace the $4 billion initiative that sought to aid around 15,000 farmers who received loans from the federal government or had bank loans guaranteed by the Agriculture Department. They included Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic farmers who were subjected to racial discrimination or ethnic prejudice.
Senator Cory Booker lauded the passage of the bill in a Tweet.
“I’m proud the Inflation Reduction Act contains more than $5B dollars that will enable thousands of struggling small farmers to stay on their land and provide financial assistance to Black farmers and others who have suffered from USDA discrimination,” stated his tweet.
Prior to the passage of the legislation, many Black farmers were in the dark regarding if the relief that was promised to them would ever be granted. After applying for the funds last year, many Black farmers invested in new equipment to help defray their debt. Some received foreclosure notices from the Department of Agriculture this year as the program remained in limbo.
President Biden “went back on his commitment to help Black farmers,” said John Boyd, the president of the National Black Farmers Association.
Noting the country's long history of racism against Black farmers, Boyd added, “Justice doesn’t come in alphabetical order in this country. Black is always last.”
In February, a study revealed that Black farmers lost approximately $326 billion worth of acreage in the 20th century.
The loss of land was one of the major contributing factors to the racial wealth gap in the United States and created a contentious relationship between the Black farmers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).