Prioritizing Climate Change & Inequality in Agriculture

THE JUSTICE FOR BLACK FARMERS ACT

Sign Our Petition in Support of the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 to Cancel Pigford Debt. Acres of Ancestry Initiative/ Black Agraian Fund, sign.moveon.org/petitions/join-acres-of-ancestry-initiative-black-agrarian-fund-in-support-of-justice-for-black-farmers-act.

The Biden Administration has been taking executive actions to tackle and secure environmental justice. Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order for approaching the climate crisis at home and abroad, learning about climate-resilient food and agriculture and directing every federal agency to advance our country’s climate strategy. Moving forward, he plans to prioritize climate change and inequality in agriculture by making these two issues the main priorities of the Biden administration, evidently reversing and solving President Donald J. Trump’s unraveling of environmental regulations. 

To have agriculture as the foundation of this climate agenda, farmers are looking to take up farming methods that could keep carbon dioxide locked in the soil and out of the atmosphere. An idea proposed is the federal soil “carbon bank.” It offers credits to farmers for the carbon they sequester in the soil through sustainable farming methods. This plan would allocate $1 billion to purchase carbon credits from farmers at $20 per ton of carbon they trap in the soil and could reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 megatons.

Herewith, this legacy of discrimination that has driven generations of Black Americans from their farms and left them at an economic disadvantage is being looked upon. There are estimated less than 50,000 remaining Black farmers in the United States, which compared to 1920, is a significant difference, as there were nearly 1 million Black farmers. This is setting the stage for new policies for greater change and steps to improve Black and other minority farmers’ access to land, loans, and other assistance, including “climate-smart” production. One includes Congressman David Scott of Georgia, who is the first black chairman. Another is the Justice for Black Farmers Act. 

Originally on (November 30th) 2020, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the legislation. Joining Booker as sponsors were Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York state, Tina Smith of Minnesota, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. This comprehensive bill is announced to address this situation in federal agricultural policy and expand Black-owned farmland by up to 32 million acres through land grants over 10 years. “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,” said Senator Booker.

In shorter terms, included in The Justice for Black Farmers Act are policies that provide debt relief, create a land grant program, restore land base, and implement systemic reforms. These policies will address and end discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in hopes of empowering a new generation of Black farms and supplying a successful future for them. 

Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will:

  • End Discrimination within USDA
  • Protect Remaining Black Farmers from Land Loss
  • Restore the Land Base Lost by Black Farmers
  • Create a Farm Conservation Corps 
  • Empower HBCUs and Advocates for Black Farmers
  • Assist All Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • Enact System Reforms to Help All Farmers and Ranchers

Sources:

January 29, 2021 Allison Johnson Andrea Spacht Collins. “Biden Sets Stage for Climate Resilient Food & Agriculture.” NRDC, 29 Jan. 2021, www.nrdc.org/experts/andrea-spacht-collins/biden-sets-stage-climate-resistant-food-agriculture.

Rappeport, Alan, and Ana Swanson. “Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/us/politics/biden-debt-relief-black-farmers.html.  

Tabuchi, Hiroko, and Nadja Popovich. “Two Biden Priorities, Climate and Inequality, Meet on Black-Owned Farms.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/climate/black-farmers-discrimination-agriculture.html.  

“U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.” Home, 9 Feb. 2021, www.booker.senate.gov/news/press/booker-warren-gillibrand-smith-warnock-and-leahy-announce-comprehensive-bill-to-address-the-history-of-discrimination-in-federal-agricultural-policy.   

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