Multi Billion dollar relief effort
In a significant move aimed at addressing long standing grievances, the Biden-Harris Administration has officially launched a $2.2 billion relief initiative to support Black farmers and others who have faced discrimination within federal government lending programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is now accepting applications for its Discrimination Financial Assistance Program, which will provide financial aid to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending prior to 2021. This landmark initiative, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, marks a crucial step towards rectifying historical injustices.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the significance of this program, stating, “The opening of the application process is an important step in delivering on our commitment of providing financial assistance to those who faced discrimination in USDA farm lending, as swiftly and efficiently as possible.”
The announcement comes after decades of Black farmers accusing the USDA of discrimination and being denied loans critical for their livelihoods and the preservation of their land.
The Discrimination Financial Assistance Program was established following the suspension of the Biden-Harris Administration’s initial $4 billion debt relief program for Black and “socially disadvantaged” farmers. The program faced a class-action lawsuit from White farmers who claimed that it discriminated against them under the American Rescue Plan.
In response, Democrats in Congress revised the law to remove race from the eligibility requirements for the USDA program, while the initial loan assistance under the American Rescue Plan remains subject to ongoing litigation in Texas. In an effort to urge the USDA to move forward with the intended relief, Black farmers initiated their own lawsuit.