Policy Update: Sen. Warnock Introduces Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act
On Monday, February 8, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a new member of the Agriculture Committee, introduced the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. The bill was cosponsored by Sen. Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Luján (D-NM), and Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI). It is expected that the legislation will be included in the upcoming stimulus package.
The bill (summary here, and full text here) provides:
- $4 billion in direct payments to farmers of color to forgive outstanding USDA farm loan debt and related taxes.
- $1 billion for:
- Grants and loans to farmers to improve land access and resolve heirs’ property issues.
- Supporting legal centers that focus on legal issues of farmers of color.
- Creating a racial equity commission to address discrimination at USDA.
- Support for research, education, and extension at institutions of higher education that historically serve communities of color.
- Scholarships for Indigenous students to attend land-grant universities.
- Outreach, mediation, financial training, technical assistance, and more.
- Pilot projects on land acquisition, financial planning, technical assistance, and credit.
- Assistance to producers of color who are former farm loan borrowers and have encountered past discrimination or bias.
The legislation, which was supported in a statement by USDA’s Chief of Staff Katharine Ferguson, was introduced alongside Sen. Booker’s Justice for Black Farmers Act, which AFT commented on when it was first released in November of 2020. This bill was cosponsored by Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Warnock (D-GA), Sen. Smith (D-MN), and Sen. Warren (D-MA).