Group 4 Created with Sketch.

Snippet of PBS News Hour: How the Economic Relief Plan Focuses on Farmers of Color

Play Audio
Add to Playlist
Share Report
Found on these Playlists
Add to Playlist
Full Description
Back to Top
The COVID relief and economic package is a massive bill that has a far-reaching impact in ways that many Americans don't know about yet. One provision calls for debt relief for Black farmers, who have long been denied access to government funding.
Back to Top
the Covid relief law is massive, with far reaching impact. It includes debt relief for America's black farmers long denied government funding. Lisa Desjardin reports Judy The new law allocates $5 billion for farmers of color. Most of that aims to erase their debt by paying 100 and 20% of their federally backed farm loans. The USDA tells News Hour that that would help some 14,000 farmers providing $175,000 in relief. On average, the struggles of black farmers have been particularly acute. John Boyd is a farmer in Southwest Virginia and himself. He is also the head of the National Black Farmers Association. Let's start right away. How would this money help black farmers? Well, that's going to give them a jump start in their farming operation. And first and foremost, this this measure is historic in Nature provides $5 billion.4 billion for debt relief and other incentives and $1 billion for outreach and, uh, set up a commission and really look at the issues of discrimination at the United States Department of Agriculture, something I was trying to do for about 30 years. So this is a huge step in the right direction, especially for Congress and and for their department. You are 1/4 generation farmer. You're talking about historic discrimination from the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In particular, we're talking about loans denied loans underfunded. Can you take us through how that actually worked for individual farmers like you? What did you experience? Well, basically, we are. Many black farmers are experienced, but discrimination at the United States Department of Agriculture. And I was a farmer. Had my loan application, uh, torn and tossed in a dress. Can I've been spat on by the person responsible for making farm loans and my county here and and and Mecklenburg County, Virginia. So discrimination was very, very pervasive where many black farmers was just flat out denied an application and they would come into the office. And the local official would say we don't have any money available. And when white farmers came in, they would process their loans less than 30 days. And for black farmers, it took 387 days on average, uh, to process our loans, I have to circle about. You were spat at by a federal official. Yes, chewing tobacco. He's, uh, chewing tobacco juice. He spat on my shirt, and when they came out, the USDA civil rights person investigated him. They asked him that you spat on Mr Board Shirt, he said, Well, yes, he accidentally missed his spot. Can they asked him? Did he had problems making loans to black farmers that he only made to that particular year? And he said, Well, yes, I think they're lazy and look for a paycheck on Friday. That's the type of discriminatory demeanor that prevented black farmers from prospering in this country when we would deny for access of credit based on based on his race. So he, uh, he would only say black farmers on Wednesday. So we named it Black Wednesday in our county. All of our daughter's head, 9 a.m. Wednesday so and so And he would speak loudly and boastfully and downward towards elderly black farmers, calling them boy. So these people were preachers and and and deacons and leaders in their community, and this kind of supervisor was referring to him as a as a boy and how he wasn't going to lend us any of his money and uh, if we quote me, right, I believe this. The government's measures The government wants taxpayers money, not his money. So that's the type of discrimination we were facing. And not just in my county. But this is this was a national, uh, epidemic. And I would like to call it a national disgrace. An embarrassment to our for, for our living.