Black American Farmers Need Debt Relief Now
The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not reflect the views of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Because of our race, loans are often denied to black farmers like me.
Brennan Washington, a farmer and co-owner of Phoenix Gardens in Lawrenceville (Georgia), is past chairman of the Georgia Farmers Market Association.
Since 1995, I have managed a small Georgia farm. It’s been a joy to work with my wife on a small Georgia farm.
Many hard times were experienced. There were many challenging times.
How will our business be affected?
Our insurance covered us. We might have had to go through more pain if we had requested a loan.
Black farmers are denied loans because of their race. Last year, USDA approved loans at almost twice the rate of black applicants.
Due to corporate consolidation and racism, our business has had difficulty surviving. Now, there are less than 50,000.
It is a blessing to be part of such a supportive group. One of the many climate catastrophes we face could lead to a family losing their savings or even destroying their business.
My community has been my number one priority. I have traveled across the country to meet them.
Recently, the USDA pledged to pay black farmers debt relief. Many black farmers have been subject to this discrimination for decades. Plaintiffs seek to enforce a system where white farmers can benefit from discriminatory USDA practices at the expense of other farmers.
Black farmers may be able to cultivate land taken from them by white farmers if they support these lawsuits.
They denied me equal rights, but they tried to stop me from exercising my right to exercise those rights. I’m glad to speak with white farmers from my community who disagree with extremists but support the program to improve opportunities for small farmers.
This program should not be discontinued for black farmers or any farmer of color. They must eat in fast-food restaurants and dollar shops.
This food apartheid was caused by decades of discriminatory development policies.
Independent farmers can understand the needs of communities. I have seen black farmers working together to provide healthy, affordable food for their neighbors in low-income areas with limited access. We are trying to increase farmers’ markets and make sure markets receive the benefits of the assistance program–supplementary Nutritional Supplement (SNAP).
I will continue to support farmer assistance programs, but the black farmer might vanish in my lifetime—a farmhouse made from ashes.
Our success is not accidental. Hard work and dedication made it possible to support the debt relief plan in agriculture and more significant equity. Black farmers do not want handouts. They demand fairness.
Your community can benefit from sustainable, local food regardless of where it is located—support black farmers at the forefront of this movement.
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