Farmers of Color “Cannot Be An Afterthought”: During Agriculture Committee Hearing, Senator Warnock Uplifts Need for Continual Engagement With Farmers of Color in Georgia

During a markup on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, Senator Warnock stressed the need for continued engagement with farmers of color who will be impacted by the legislation
Senator Warnock: “As we work to address climate change and generate new revenue streams for our famers, we must include farmers of color and their communities in these conversations. They cannot be left behind or be an afterthought.”
Following brief opening remarks, Senator Warnock also questioned Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, nominee for USDA Deputy Secretary, regarding the Biden Administration’s efforts to ensure equitable, accessible implementation of relief funding for farmers of color
Senator Warnock delivers remarks during markup on The Growing Climate Solutions Act


Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday during a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee business meeting on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) underscored the importance of ensuring Black farmers and other farmers of color have a seat at the table to help shape federal public policy that has direct impacts on their livelihoods. Engagement with farmers of color in Georgia and across the country, Senator Warnock emphasized, equips these farming families with the tools to adapt to climate change and generate new, sturdy revenue streams for their operations. In his opening remarks, Senator Warnock also highlighted commitments he secured to ensure farmers of color would be consulted to incorporate their input as the legislation moves forward.

During these discussions, I often think about the many farmers back in Georgia who I represent. I think about the conversations I have had with them, particularly Black farmers who have suffered years of discrimination from the USDA. Many of these farmers of color and their communities were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with less than 0.1 percent of the nearly $26 billion dollars allocated for USDA COVID-relief ending up in their pockets. As we work to address climate change and generate new revenue streams for our farmers, we must include farmers of color and their communities in these conversations. It is a matter of equity and justice. They cannot be left behind. They cannot be an afterthought,” said Senator Warnock. “And so I hope that we can be intentional about understanding the effects these policies, over many years in fact, have on farmers of color, their operations, their communities, their ability to thrive, their access to land and other economic opportunities…Chair Stabenow, I am glad to receive your commitment to work with these farmers of color.”

See full video of Senator Warnock’s remarks HERE.

Following Senator Warnock’s opening remarks on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, he then discussed his Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act with Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, nominee for Deputy Secretary of USDA, and secured commitments from Dr. Bronaugh that the federal agriculture department will work closely with him to make sure the debt relief legislation is implemented efficiently and equitably, and that the concerns of Black farmers and other farmers of color in Georgia are addressed during the process. If confirmed, Dr. Bronaugh will be the first Black woman to serve in this position and will be instrumental in the implementation of relief for farmers of color in Georgia and across the country. 

“As you know, I am very pleased to have my Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Actincluded in the American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden. This targeted relief, including debt relief on outstanding USDA loans and one billion dollars in investments, will help farmers of color recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also beginning the long process of addressing years, decades really, of systemic racial discrimination against farmers of color at the hands of their own US Department of Agriculture. Dr. Bronaugh, if confirmed, you and your office will play a critical role in implementing these provisions for farmers of color. Do I have your commitment to work with me on the implementation of these provisions?” Senator Warnock asked the witness during the hearing.

Senator Warnock questions nominee for Deputy Secretary of USDA, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, on the implementation of the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act

“I am grateful to know you will ensure the voices of farmers of color are heard at the highest levels of our US Department of Agriculture. It is something I’ve also discussed with Secretary Vilsack and he is very much aware of my concerns there. It is rooted, really, in decades of discrimination and deep disappointment that has led to deep distrust and understandably so from farmers of color… As we look ahead, Georgia farmers are seeking guidance from USDA on the implementation on these relief provisions. They need guidance on how debt relief will be administered and a better understanding of just how they can provide input in regards to the one billion dollars in investments aimed at supporting farmers of color.” Senator Warnock added during the exchange.

See full video of Senator Warnock’s questioning HERE.