WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced landmark legislation aimed at addressing and correcting historic discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture in federal farm assistance and lending that has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed Black farmers and their families of the hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth that land represented. Senator Booker originally introduced the legislation in 2020.
In 1920 there were nearly 1 million Black farmers in the United States. Today, due to this history of discrimination, it is estimated that there are less than 50,000 remaining Black farmers.
The Justice for Black Farmers Act will enact policies to end discrimination within the USDA, protect remaining Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers and restore the land base that has been lost, and implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States.
"Overtly discriminatory and unjust federal policy has robbed Black families in the United States of the ability to build and pass on intergenerational wealth,” said Senator Booker. “When it comes to farming and agriculture, we know that there is a direct connection between discriminatory policies within the USDA and the enormous land loss we have seen among Black farmers over the past century. The Justice for Black Farmers Act will address and correct USDA discrimination and take bold steps to forgive debt and restore the land that has been lost in order to empower a new generation of Black farmers to succeed and thrive. As a new member on the Agriculture committee, I am proud to re-introduce this landmark legislation alongside my colleagues as we work to correct this historic injustice.”
“For decades, racist policies have robbed Black farmers of the economic opportunity to thrive in our country's agricultural industry. I'm glad to cosponsor Senator Booker's bill, which goes a long way toward restoring and protecting property rights of Black farmers, rooting out discriminatory policies, and providing Black farmers with the necessary tools to succeed,” said Senator Warren.
“Black farmers and ranchers have been historically excluded in agricultural industries. Inequities in federal policies have stripped them of their land and denied them federal aid. It is not only our responsibility to investigate this systemic discrimination, but we must end and correct it, so that the next generation of Black farmers can grow – especially as we help farmers across the country recover from the economic crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “The Justice for Black Farmers Act will put an end to discriminatory practices that have harmed Black agricultural producers for more than a hundred years. I thank Senator Booker for his leadership on this issue and I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to make farming more equitable and inclusive.”
“We have to acknowledge that the USDA has a history of institutionalized discrimination against Black farmers and farmers of color. That is the history we cannot look away from,” said Senator Smith. “At a recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, I brought up the need to create equitable credit access for diverse farmers—including the Black, Hmong, Latino and Native American farmers in my state of Minnesota—because these are the types things we need to be working to address. This historic legislation is needed so we can help create a future that empowers more farmers to succeed.”
“The Justice for Black Farmers Act is essential legislation that will help level the playing field for Black farmers in Georgia and across our nation who for too long have been denied the true promise of the American Dream. While we work on getting immediate relief to farmers of color to help them move behind this current health and economic crisis, I look forward to fighting alongside Senator Booker to get this bill passed and signed into law,” said Senator Reverend Warnock.
“The Justice for Black Farmers Act is the most ambitious legislative proposal ever developed to address historic and ongoing discrimination against Black farmers,” said John Boyd, Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA). “As NBFA and the Environmental Working Group recently documented, Black farmers have been systemically denied access to land, subsidies, loans and other critical tools through government and private discrimination, and the institutional racism that has driven Black land loss is being reinforced through the USDA’s broken policies. By providing new access to land and credit and providing debt relief, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help right these historic wrongs. By providing new oversight and accountability within the USDA, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will help address the roots of the USDA’s racist history. By making an unprecedented investment in training through historically Black colleges and universities and groups like the National Black Farmers Association, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will ensure that Black farmers have the tools they need to succeed. These reforms are long overdue. We applaud the leadership of Sens. Booker, Warren, Gillibrand, Warnock and Smith, and we urge Congress to act swiftly to address USDA’s long history of discrimination against Black Farmers.”
"The Justice For Black Farmers Act is an incredibly important step towards addressing the harm that Black farmers and land stewards have suffered and continue to endure,” said Dara Cooper, Executive Director of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. “This is one very important opportunity towards addressing the state of emergency that Black farmers and land stewards continue to face. Considering Black farming communities have been reduced by an alarming 98%, we are sounding the alarm that it is long past due to address the unfinished business that farmer activists have been calling for quite some time. Let us all rally behind this important piece of legislation and make sure it passes. It is the least we can do for Black farmers and our failing food system."
Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will: