“We should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. As long as farmers are pitted against farmers, regardless of race or scale of operation, rural America – and the rest of the country – will suffer.
…It’s been 18 months since the $4 billion federal debt relief package for Black and other marginalized producers passed under the American Rescue Plan, yet no relief has come for the 15,000 farmers and ranchers of color who applied because of these bogus lawsuits. Some continue to invest in expensive equipment, seed, and fertilizer to keep their operations going without knowing if they will even have a farm to operate next season. Others have received notices warning them of possible foreclosure; while the USDA has said these were automatic mailings that should be dismissed, no farmer can ignore the stress of not knowing if their debts will come due in the end. This is all because a handful of white farmers were misled into believing that ignoring decades of racial discrimination within the USDA would somehow benefit them. ”
The op-ed highlights NFFC member group The Federation of Southern Cooperatives efforts to defend promised debt relief. The Federation is seeking declarations from farmers or ranchers of color who have experienced discrimination at the USDA, and from white farmers who have observed discrimination, over the past 10 to 15 years. If you have experienced or observed such discrimination, please contact the Federation by June 24, 2022 to show solidarity with your fellow farmers.