ICYMI: In Interview with ABC News, Senator Reverend Warnock Demands USDA Fulfill Promise to Underserved Farmers

Senator Reverend Warnock, a champion for underserved farmers, spoke with ABC News’ Rachel Scott regarding USDA’s unacceptable delays in distributing debt relief to economically-distressed farmers

Senator Reverend Warnock has prioritized fighting for farmers who have been historically discriminated against by USDA as a top issue guiding his work on the U.S. Senate Agriculture committee

Senator Reverend Warnock has a long history of holding USDA accountable, most recently pushing Secretary Vilsack in a Senate Agriculture committee hearing to expedite assistance for farmers who’ve faced historic discrimination

Senator Reverend Warnock: “I want to see USDA get the farmers the relief that we’ve passed through legislation. It is taking entirely too long—while folks are caught up in bureaucracy and processes, another planting season has come and gone.”

Watch: Senator Warnock speaks with ABC News

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture committee, spoke with ABC News’ Rachel Scott for their segment “Through the Cracks” which appeared on ABC’s This Week and ABC News’Primetime Live with Linsey Davis, on the Senator leadership in supporting farmers and securing relief for underserved farmers. The segment examined efforts to get debt relief to economically-distressed farmers, many of whom have faced decades of discrimination by USDA.

“I want to see USDA get the farmers the relief that we’ve passed through legislation,” said Senator Warnock to ABC News.“It is taking entirely too long—while folks are caught up in bureaucracy and processes, another planting season has come and gone.”

Below is a timeline highlighting some of the Senator’s work to champion underserved farmers:

  • February 9, 2021: Senator Warnock introduced the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, which would provide $5 billion to help Black farmers and farmers of color address the COVID-19 crisis and historic discrimination.
  • March 6, 2021: The Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, which included the Senator’s legislation, the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. 
  • March 23, 2021: Senator Warnock joined farmers of color across the country detailing the historic, long-awaited investment within the American Rescue Plan’s Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act.
  • April 23, 2021: During a markup, Senator Warnock stressed the need for continued engagement with farmers of color who will be impacted: farmers of color “cannot be an afterthought.”
  • May 4, 2021: Senator Warnock and USDA Senior Advisor for Racial Equity Dr. Dewayne Goldmon, met with dozens of Black farmers and farmers of color ahead of the implementation of the $5 billion in ARP funding.
  • January 10, 2022: Senator Warnock, Secretary Vilsack, and Rep. Williams joined Black farmers from around the state for a conversation with senior USDA officials about the ongoing debt crisis and how USDA can support Black farmers.
  • May 31, 2022: Senator Warnock brought Georgia farmers and agricultural leaders together with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh and other top USDA officials in Middle Georgia to discuss challenges and best practices regarding farm stress and mental health. 
  • June 2, 2022: Senator Warnock led a letter to Secretary Vilsack expressing concerns regarding USDA’s historic discrimination towards Black farmers and staff and requesting information about USDA’s efforts to remedy these issues.
  • August 7, 2022: With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Senator Warnock’s efforts to deliver for underserved farmers passes the Senate. $3.1 billion to support farmers in Georgia and across the nation who are economically distressed and most at-risk to losing their farms, as well as $2.2 billion for farmers who have suffered historical discrimination in federal farm loan programs.
  • September 7,2022: Senator Reverend Warnock, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, secured up to $300 million to help eliminate barriers to land, capital, and market access for underserved farmers. 
  • September 19, 2022: Senator Warnock urged USDA to rapidly implement the funding authorized under Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law by President Biden last month. This provision authorizes payments to distressed farm loan borrowers whose agricultural operations are at financial risk.
  • October 18, 2022: After months of advocacy, Senator Warnock’s provision in the Inflation Reduction Act to support economically-distressed farmers began implementation after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $29.8 million in relief for Georgia farmers with qualifying USDA farm loans
  • February 10, 2023: Senator Warnock pushed USDA officials to shore up issues with the Heirs’ Property Relending Program.
  • March 6, 2023: Following months of pressure, Senator Warnock announces timeline to provide financial assistance to farmers who’ve faced historic discrimination.
  • March 16, 2023: Senator Warnock pushed Sec. Vilsack in an Agriculture hearing to provide specific details regarding the delayed implementation of your farmer relief provision in the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • March 23, 2023: Senator Warnock sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen pushing for confirmation that payments made to economically distressed farmers through Section 22006 of the IRA would be considered non-taxable income.