ATLANTA – The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) celebrates the allocation of $5 billion to Black farmers, provided by way of President Joe Biden’s recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP). The funds will help address racial discrimination and offer debt relief to minority farmers.
In 2020, the SEAP partnered with the Black Belt Justice Center, a fiscal sponsor for the Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund, to launch narratives and advocacy works to bring justice for Black farmers. Last December, the two organizations held a Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 webinar with US Sen.Cory Booker, US Rep. David Scott, and Stacey Abrams – drawing in more than 1000 audience members.
ARP is directed to forgive debt on nearly $4 billion USDA loans provided to “socially disadvantaged” farmers throughout the country. An additional $1 billion will aid in educational and outreach programs. Sen. Booker’s bill, the Justice for Black Farmers Act, introduced in 2020, laid the groundwork for these elements to be incorporated into ARP.
“We have a serious and well-documented history of racial discrimination by the USDA against Black farmers,” said Sen. Booker during SEAP’s December webinar. “The loss of millions of acres of farmland, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, was primarily caused by systemic racism and discrimination.”
Rep. David Scott continues the push to provide relief and protect the coming generations of Black farmers. In his recent hearing with the House Agriculture Committee, Scott stated, “this festering wound on the soul of American agriculture must be healed.”
This month, SEAP joined dozens of supporting organizations and farmers in submitting a letter to the USDA, calling for swift implementation of debt relief, training assistance, and an agriculture system that values racial equity.
About The Southern Economic Advancement Project
The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is your partner and resource. SEAP amplifies existing organizations and networks’ efforts to broaden economic power and build a more equitable future. Broadening economic power brings attention to how race, class, and gender intersect social and economic policy in the South. SEAP explores policy ideas designed to address these connections directly. SEAP focuses on 12 Southern states and marginalized/vulnerable populations within the region and is a fiscally sponsored project of the Roosevelt Institute.