Federal government taken to court for reworking Black farmers debt relief program


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By Phil McCausland, NBC News

John Boyd, president of the Black Farmers Association, plants winter wheat in one of his fields in Baskerville, Va. (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file)

Minority farmers are taking the federal government to court for watering down a $4 billion debt relief program aimed at helping the dwindling number of people of color who continue to work the country’s farmlands, according to a lawsuit filed last week. 

The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit said the government went back on its word to Black and other minority farmers when the relief program, originally pushed through by Democrats in Congress, was reworked and broadened after white farmers balked

“They broke their promise to Black farmers and other farmers of color,” John Boyd, a plaintiff and the president of the National Black Farmers Association, told NBC News on Wednesday just before he held a press conference on the matter.

The program, which was created by the American Rescue Plan of 2021, was intended to help minority farmers pay off Department of Agriculture loans and provide other forms of debt relief and aid to those racial and ethnic groups that have faced discrimination from the government in the past. It covered up to 120% of the debts of farmers who are members of groups that have historically been discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity.

The $4 billion was never delivered to Black farmers and other people of color, however.

For more than 18 months, the money has been held up in a court battle, as white farmers and others challenged the allotment they would not be able to access and claimed it was a violation of their constitutional rights.

Follow this case.

Black farmers have also made news by joining collectives.

ABHM’s breaking news includes more stories like this.

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