African-American farmers have expressed grievances over the US government's "abysmal failures" to eradicate systemic racism in the farming industry.
An analysis by Politico of US Agriculture Department (USDA) data published on Monday showed that USDA programs were still biased against Black farmers despite US President Joe Biden’s promises of fighting systemic racism and social injustice in US society.
Black rights advocates say Biden's promise to make up for decades of racial discrimination in federal assistance to farmers by forgiving loans to Black farmers has shown “abysmal failures.”
USDA granted loans to only 37 percent of Black applicants last year in one program that helps farmers pay for land, equipment and repairs but accepted 71 percent of applications from white farmers, according to an analysis of USDA data by Politico.
In a grant program to help producers weather the coronavirus pandemic, farmers of color received less than one percent of the payments even though they make up five percent of all US farmers.
"Black farmers and their advocates say that plan, while welcome, won’t fix the ongoing problem: Agriculture Department programs are still biased against them," according to Politico's investigation on the data.
“This data affirms what our elder farmers have been saying about the US Department of Agriculture for decades,” said Tracy Lloyd McCurty from the Black Belt Justice Center Black rights advocacy group which represents Black farmers. It reveals the “abysmal failures” of the government in dismantling pervasive racial discrimination against Black farmers.
Carolyn Jones, a Black farmer and executive director for the Mississippi Minority Farmers Alliance complained that the process put in place by USDA was not only racially biased but also complex.
“The process put in place keeps you from being able to apply,” Jones complained.
She cited issues including overly complex applications, a lack of access to a competitive market and outright discrimination as other obstacles that Black farmers faced.