Notice: Law on the need for emergency aid for colored farmers

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On March 11, a $ 1.9 trillion economic package called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was enacted, allocating nearly $ 10.4 billion to U.S. agriculture and food supply programs.

the Colored Farmers Emergency Relief Act was one of many articles transmitted with this plan. This law has been featured on numerous media channels as the most important piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under the Farmers of Color Emergency Relief Act, nearly half of the funding for the US bailout for agriculture and food supply programs ($ 5 billion) was allocated specifically as direct aid to BIPOC farmers (blacks, natives and people of color).

However, this legislation quickly became controversial.

Farmers across the country are suing the federal government, claiming racial exclusivity in farmer debt relief. White farmers argue that this act is, in fact, at odds with lines of civil rights law that “prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or gender. national origin ”.

From the perspective of an agronomist of color, I would say that this claim misses the real intention of moving emergency relief to farmers of color.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, like many American citizens, black farmers began to work in agriculture to earn a living and feed their families. However, black farmers were still seen as completely equal.

With communities serving whites still normalized and blacks seen as less than human, it was difficult for black farmers to receive loans, land or resources to meet the increased demand of the growing country compared to their white counterparts. Many black farmers were not seen as productive members of society or even as individuals, leading many white businesses to deny newly recognized citizens access to resources that could have supported their farming practices.

Related: Diversity in Agriculture: Are We Going for Something Bigger?

Additionally, as federal entities like the United States Department of Agriculture began to form and structure themselves, farmer protection programs were created – but did not include BIPOC farmers. for they were, again, not considered equal in industry before, during, and after the civil rights movement. The programs may have adapted and changed since implementation, but there are still glaring inequalities in programming that do not take into account the systemic challenges of BIPOC communities. Many of these challenges lead BIPOC farmers to fail to meet the demands of certain programs that others may find it easier to achieve; who themselves and their families have not faced the problems of systemic discrimination that have plagued the generational wealth of BIPOC farmers for decades.

Can you imagine developing our family farms, our agribusinesses or our local community farming programs without help in this increasingly difficult economic climate in our country? Could we make our productions sustainable? If not, then how do we expect our BIPOC farmers to hold up.

By 1910, the Black Farmers owned approximately 17 million acres of farmland. After decades of this discrimination, which again occurred after 1964 and continues in many forms today, black farmers own 1.1 million acres of farmland. In 1910, there were nearly a million black farmers in the country. After years of discrimination, even after 1964, they are now 45,000.

Image by bbernard, Shutterstock

Black farmers are not the only ones affected, as we can certainly talk about the ancestry of indigenous farmers as an influence of colonization, and other stories that have influenced the ancestry of farmers of color in agriculture. . I will definitely make room to discuss this in the next few columns. But for the sake of this column, here’s the deal:

It’s not just a COVID relief issue for BIPOC farmers. As we have read, this part of the aid aims to rectify a systemic problem facing BIPOC farmers.

To give us a visual of what I mean, imagine the carnival game where we have to shoot water at a target to fill a long plastic cylinder. This cylinder sends a rubber duck upward as it is filled. The goal is to get the rubber duck to the top before everyone else, and we get the prize. To do this, however, we must systematically shoot water at the target and not miss it.

Imagine if the BIPOC farmers and the white farmers each had a turn in this game and competed against each other. White farmers have no problem with the game. When the buzzer sounds, they hit the target with an unlimited supply of water. Now, it’s not that BIPOC farmers can’t hit the target, but their sprinkler doesn’t have enough water to start. When the buzzer rings, they are always expected to make their rubber duck or token go up with less water than their white counterpart.

Even if a silly comparison, the visual still stands. We all have the opportunity to play the game, we just weren’t seated fairly.

We are including BIPOC farmers in the “American Rescue Plan” because it is a group of people who need a life raft, more water in their sprinkler to deter further decline. . Looking at the numbers, I hope it’s not too late to lend a hand to our community of BIPOC farmers. Fortunately for our country, we have people who have noticed the decline in the number of farmers in BIPOC for years, if not decades, and have a particular interest in the passage of the Law on Emergency Relief for Farmers of color.

To help their advocacy work and / or to find out more, visit their websites or follow their Instagram for more information on how to get involved:

Member of Congress and Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee David Scott
Website: https://davidscott.house.gov
Instagram: @houseagdems

Senator Cory Booker
Website: https://www.booker.senate.gov
Instagram: @corybooker

National Alliance of Black Food and Justice
Website: https://www.blackfoodjustice.org

National Trade Association of Latino Farmers and Ranchers
Website: https://www.nlfrta.org/index.html

National Coalition of Young Farmers
Website: https://www.youngfarmers.org
Instagram: @young farmers

Federation of Southern Cooperatives
Website: https: //www.federation.coop
Instagram: @federationofsoutherncoop

Black Belt Justice Center
Website: https://acresofancestry.org
Instagram: @acresofancestry

Black Dirt Farm Collective
Website: https://www.facebook.com/blackdirtfarmcollective/
Instagram: @b_d_f_c

Bre Holbert is a past national president of the FFA and studies agricultural science and education at California State-Chico. “Better two ears to listen than a mouth to speak. Two ears allow us to assert more people, rather than letting go to harm people’s history by speaking on behalf of others.

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