Senator Reverend Warnock: “While there is more work left to do to reverse the impacts of decades of discrimination against Black farmers and other farmers of color—today, we gather and pause to recognize the important first step this legislation takes toward leveling the playing field and righting some of these injustices.”
Senator Reverend Warnock: “Let me be clear: This [Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act] is COVID relief […] This investment has the ability to lift and support our rural communities who are often without adequate funding for health care, education and crucial infrastructure. The American Rescue Plan takes this into consideration, with this legislation and other provisions, and aims the aid where it is needed given our historic past.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren: “I want to start by thanking Reverend Warnock for his leadership on the provisions in the American Rescue Plan […] If he hadn’t won that seat, we wouldn’t be here because we wouldn’t have the votes for this package. His election gives us a chance to change and now Reverend Warnock is delivering that change.”
Senator Cory Booker on provisions of the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act: “[Warnock’s] Spirit, determination… heroic effort was criticalin leading loan forgiveness across the finish line.”
***WATCH FULL VIDEO OF SENATOR WARNOCK’s FARMERS OF COLOR RELIEF REMARKS HERE***
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, as the new Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), joined farmers of color across the country detailing the historic, long-awaited $5 billion investment within the American Rescue Plan’s Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act – considered one of the “most pivotal Civil Rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964” by USDA Coalition of Minority Employees. Senator Warnock, joined by co-sponsors of the bill Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), explained how this significant relief to farmers of color is only the first step in righting the wrongs for disadvantaged Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and farmers of color who, in addition to navigating the current public health and economic challenges, have long struggled to keep their farms and ownership of their land in rural communities due to longstanding discrimination.
“While there is more work left to do to reverse the impacts of decades of discrimination against Black farmers and other farmers of color—today, we gather and pause to recognize the important first step this legislation takes toward leveling the playing field and righting some of these injustices… Let me be clear: This [Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act] is COVID relief,” said Senator Warnock. “This investment has the ability to lift and support our rural communities who are often without adequate funding for health care, education and crucial infrastructure. The American Rescue Plan takes this into consideration, with this legislation and other provisions, and aims the aid where it is needed given our historic past […] We know there’s a lot of work to be done to demonstrate we are serious to make good on the promise to these farmers. We will remain engaged and connected to see this legislation all the way through.”
Senator Warnock’s landmark Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act will provide $4 billion in direct payments to pay outstanding debts on USDA farm loans and $1 billion in investments to support activities at the USDA that will root out systemic racism, provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color, and fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color, who for decades have been left behind due to discrimination at USDA. Specifically, this $1 billion fund will include:
- Grants and loans to improve land access & address heirs’ property issues;
- Support for one or more legal centers focused on agricultural legal issues of farmers of color;
- Pilot projects that focus on land acquisition, financial planning, technical assistance, and credit;
- A racial equity commission and related activities to address systemic racism across USDA;
- Support for research, education, and extension at HBCUs and other institutions of higher education that historically serve communities of color;
- Scholarships at 1890’s land grant universities and for indigenous students attending land grant institutions, and other minority serving institutions;
- Outreach, mediation, financial training, capacity building training, cooperative development training and support, and other technical assistance; and
- Assistance to farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners of color that are former farm loan borrowers and suffered related adverse actions, or past discrimination or bias.
The virtual event was attended by the Black Belt Justice Coalition, Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, Environmental Working Group, Justice for Black Farmers and farmers of color across the country including Georgia’s own—Eddie Slaughter, farmer of Buena Vista.
Senator Warnock commits to working with the USDA to ensure this passed legislation will be equitably distributed to farmers across the country who have long been unsupported by the federal government and suffered through the challenges posed by the pandemic.