Friday, February 26, 2021

Deadline: Friday, February 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET Sign on to Support Emergency Relief for Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Farmers and Ranchers

 

 

 

 

 

Sign on to Support Emergency Relief for Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Farmers and Ranchers

 

Deadline: Friday, February 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm ET

 

 

Greetings RC Members and Allies, 

 

Thank you to all who have signed on to our letter to support emergency relief for Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and ranchers. For decades, we have vigorously represented the financial and rural development interests of this nation’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers and ranchers. We endorse and urge your organization to sign on to this letter (see text below), urging Congress to support the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act introduced by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Ben Ray Luján (D- NM), and Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and to assure the emergency relief provisions drawn from this Act as included by House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Rep. David Scott (D-GA) in S. Con. Res. 5, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, are included in the final COVID Emergency Budget Reconciliation Package. 

 

Join our Coalition and other signatories in endorsing this letter by signing your organization on to this Google Form and sharing this action alert with other aligned organizations by Friday, February 26 at 12:00 pm ET. If you have already signed on, you do not have to do so again.

 

Take Action

We urge your organization to sign on to the letter by completing this form (letter text below and on form) by Friday, February 26 at 12:00 pm ET.

 

In solidarity,

 

Rural Coalition

 

 

 

February 26, 2021

 

The Honorable Charles Schumer

Majority Leader, U.S. Senate 

Washington, D.C. 20510 

 

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Minority Leader, U.S. Senate 

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

 

Support Emergency Relief for Black Indigenous and People of Color Farmers and Ranchers

 

Dear Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell:

 

We, the undersigned organizations, including many who have worked for years on these issues, have for decades vigorously represented the financial and rural development interests of this nation’s Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color farmers and ranchers. We endorse and urge you to support the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act introduced by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Ben Ray Luján (D- NM), and Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). We further urge you to assure the emergency relief provisions drawn from this Act as included by House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Rep. David Scott (D-GA) in S. Con. Res. 5, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2021, are included in the final COVID Emergency Budget Reconciliation Package.  

 

Our expressions of support for these family farmer provisions are rooted in fairness and equity. American agriculture has a long history of providing various forms of family farm debt and other emergency relief. Yet the troubled history of farm loan discrimination for Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and farmers of color, coupled with their exclusion from the many farm programs other producers depend upon to survive and thrive, weakens these farm families, making it impossible to transfer farmland wealth from generation to generation.

 

For example, the $14.4 billion in trade adjustment assistance provided in 2019 through the Market Facilitation Program[i] did not address the needs of the small farm specialty crop and livestock sectors of the market where their production is concentrated. The emergency COVID relief provided through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the Farmers to Family Food Box Program, and the Small Business loan programs have provided only minimal assistance to farmers of color. Several BIPOC-led farmers groups who did participate successfully in early rounds of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program were not included in subsequent rounds. At the same time, these producers have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to increase production in uncertain markets and to do all they can with little to no government support to meet the urgent food needs of their communities.  

 

Over 200 years of beneficial treatment positions the sectors of farmers, who have benefited most from historic and recent investments in federal farm programs, with more assets under their control, more land base to leverage, and more market stability to capitalize on and mitigate the impacts of economic crises the likes of which we are currently experiencing. Farmers of color were already leveraged to the hilt prior to the crisis because their operations haven’t had the same multigenerational investments. The carefully crafted support from Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act provisions provides the urgently needed debt forgiveness and technical assistance necessary to shore up this sector of producers who do not enjoy extensive federal support and an asset base to leverage. The legislation provides:

 

  • $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, and help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic, and
  • Another $1 billion fund to root out systemic racism by expanding the capacity of USDA to provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color and to fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color, including:

·        Grants and loans to improve land access and address heirs’ property issues;

·        Support for one or more legal centers focused on agricultural legal issues of farmers of color (including succession issues made more urgent when many families have lost members to a pandemic that has claimed over half a million lives);

·        Pilot projects focusing 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 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), 1994 Tribal Colleges, and Hispanic-Serving 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;

·        Support for outreach, mediation, financial training, capacity building training, cooperative development training and support, and other technical assistance in cooperation with the community-based organizations and institutions of higher education with the experience to provide it; 

·        Assistance to farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners of color that are former farm loan borrowers and that suffered related adverse actions, or past discrimination or bias.

 

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Farmers of Color continue to play an important social and economic role in sustaining rural communities while protecting the natural resources and producing safe and affordable farm products. We, the undersigned, urge the US Congress to ensure the urgently needed emergency relief for BIPOC farmers remains in the final COVID Emergency package.   

 

 

[i] GAO Report - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) distributed about $14.4 billion in 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments to farming operations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico… to 643,965 farming operations. MFP payments for 2019 also varied by type of commodity. Three types of commodities were eligible for 2019 MFP payments: (1) nonspecialty crops (including grains and oilseeds, such as corn and soybeans); (2) specialty crops (including nuts and fruits, such as pecans and cranberries); and (3) dairy and hogs… Less than 10 percent went to farming operations that produced specialty crops or dairy and hogs.

 

 

 

 

Rural Coalition | 202-628-7160 | E-mail | Website

 


 

 

Rural Coalition | 1029 Vermont Ave NW, 601, Washington, DC 20005



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