State of African American Farmers

State of African American Farmers

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

When President Biden nominated Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, there was a mixed response from minority and black farmers. Some said Vilsack didn’t do enough to end discrimination against Black and minority farmers when he served as Ag Secretary in the Obama administration.

This time around Vilsack says he is committed to ending whatever systemic racism and barriers exist at the Department of Agriculture.

Vilsack: “ Work has begun already to start with the implementation of President Biden’s executive order on equity. A working group has been formed at the USDA across all agencies. And they’ve already begun to meet to begin the work of assessment of services, benefits, contracts, and procurements and barriers and problems that may exist.”

Vilsack speaking there to a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the nation's Black farmers.

House Agriculture Chairman David Cox told the Secretary that it has been well documented that discrimination against black farmers by the USDA existed for decades.

Secretary Vilsack told the committed that the American Rescue Plan contains steps that allow the USDA to address the cumulative effects of past discrimination. He says the planst calls for an equity commission and debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers, as well as expanded outreach and assistance for those wishing to pass down farming operations to heirs.

According to the Census of Agriculture, In 1920 there were about 1 million black farmers in the US which was 14% of all farmers. By 2020, that number fell to about 54 thousand black farmers across the country or less than 1 ½% of all farmers.

The latest census for Colorado ag shows around 93 farms in Colorado operated by black or African American principal producers.

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