Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Donate with PayPal button
Est. April 5, 2002
Mar 25, 2021 - Issue 858
Bookmark and Share

For some Republicans, like Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), the money in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that is earmarked for black farmers and other socially disadvantaged farmers is “reparations” and the indications are that he is against reparations.

When, at some time in the future, there is legislation that does address reparations, more Republicans than Graham will come out of the woodwork, because, if the nation is not careful, justice may be perpetrated. We can’t have that, can we?

The “American Rescue Plan,” the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, sets aside $5 billion for agriculture and about half of that will go to black and other socially disadvantaged farmers. If that’s reparations, it is less than a drop in the bucket to compensate for the land that was stolen from black farmers throughout the 20th Century. That theft was accomplished because of the rampant racism that existed that allowed legal manipulation of black landowners and the white supremacist dispensers of U.S. Department of Agriculture funds at the local level, for generations.

In short, the white local USDA committee members withheld money for seeds and fertilizer for black farmers, until late in the growing season. A black farmer might get the loan when the crops of the white farmers all around were a foot high. There were other ways of depriving farmers of color, but that’s an inkling of the problem and it persisted for generations. It’s no wonder that black farmers lost millions of acres of land in the last century. And their numbers went from some 920,000 at the beginning of the century, to about 17,000 in the mid-1980s. In 2021, the USDA says there are nearly 45,000 black farmers. According to a report in The Washington Post, black farmers have lost 12 million acres in the last hundred years.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, black farmers ramped up their efforts to make the USDA own up to its failure (both major political parties) to provide civil rights oversight, which allowed racism to rule over the ownership of farmland, all across the South. Graham and others like him have asked what compensation for black farmers has to do with a Covid-19 bill. The simple answer is that, because the theft of black-owned land and farms has occurred over generations, it was made worse by the pandemic and, therefore, something had to be done to help those who have been displaced by structural racism.

John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, told Yahoo!Finance, “(the bill is) a huge win for me and for Black farmers.” He added, “I’ve been trying to get debt relief through an act of Congress for about 30’s been taken out of a lot of legislative efforts. This isn’t something we just tried to do here recently. We’ve been trying to do it for a very, very long time.”

A Virginia crop and cattle farmer, Boyd pointed out, “We’ve been totally excluded from all USDA subsidy programs like the Trump payouts for the China trade war.” Boyd told Yahoo!Finance, “Farmers of color, especially Black farmers, were virtually absent from those monies. We didn’t get it. PPP, we didn’t get it. We’re not getting farm operating loans, farm equipment loans, or rural development loans, and this has been going on for decades.” In 2020, USDA established the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), to provide assistance to farmers affected by the pandemic. Even so, the Environmental Working Group found that, as of last October, about 97 percent of the $9.2 billion in CFAP money went to white farmers, each receiving eight times more than the average black farmer.

Graham appeared on Fox News earlier this month and said during the interview: “Let me give you an example of something that really bothers me. In this bill, if you’re a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent of your loan ... if you’re socially disadvantaged, if you’re African American, some other minority. But if you’re [a] white person, if you’re a white woman, no forgiveness. That’s reparations. What does that have to do with COVID?”

He got an answer in a quick response from House Majority Whip James Clyburn, (D-SC), who noted:

Lindsey Graham is from South Carolina. He knows South Carolina’s history. He knows what the state of South Carolina and this country has done to black farmers in South Carolina. They didn’t do it to white farmers. We’re trying to rescue the lives and livelihoods of people. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”

Whether he considers the stimulus money that is going to black farmers reparations or something else, Graham might as well get used to talking about reparations, in general, for they are owed to those who have suffered for centuries and have been left out of the distribution of the wealth of the nation by its structural racism after generations of being pushed to the margins, belittled, and oppressed. The time has come for the tally of who owes what to whom. He can cry all he wants about white farmers being left out of part of the stimulus bill. They were not the victims of multi-generational theft and bureaucratic flim-flam. Black farmers are the victims and they are demanding recompense.

All black Americans and their allies of every color, as good Americans, will be demanding no less for all who have suffered and been deprived by the same system that stole from black farmers. It’s time. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

Bookmark and Share




is published Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Get On The
Email List

Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1
Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers