Black US farmers awaiting billions in promised debt relief

National

Farmer John Boyd Jr., poses for a portrait during a break from bailing hay at his farm in Boydton, Va., Thursday, May 27, 2021. Documents from a USDA internal review that Boyd provided to The Associated Press show investigators found his operating loan requests were not processed for years, despite explicit instructions from the agency’s state director. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

BOYDTON, Va. (AP) — U.S. farmers of color are battling in the courts to save a $4 billion debt relief program approved by Congress. Congress approved the debt relief for 16,000 farmers of color in March as part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package.

The funding was intended to remedy past discrimination in U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs. White farmers have sued, arguing that the relief is discriminatory.

The USDA’s history of discrimination is so pervasive that many Black farmers call the government agency “the last plantation.” They’re now fighting with the USDA to defend the debt relief program.

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