Racism in the US Farm Program
The Plight of Black Farmers
By JERRY PENNICK and HEATHER GRAY
In 1999, black farmers in the United States reached a $2.8 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a class-action discrimination lawsuit. But the problems are ongoing. In fact, under various farm bills and trade agreements, discrimination has expanded to farmers throughout the world.
Most farmers in the world are, in fact, people of color, from Africa to Asia to the Americas. Abuse of the agriculture program was rampant in the American South in the past century. Examples abound. Early in the 20th century, cotton plantation owners convinced the U.S. Department of Agriculture that allotment payments should be filtered through them, rather than go directly to their black tenant farmers or sharecroppers. This resulted in as little money as possible going to those farming the land. It set a pattern of abuse.
We've seen in recent years Farm Service Agency county supervisors totally disregard loan applications from black farmers. Information about farm programs is not always made available to black farmers. If loans are approved, the payments often come too late to plant the season's crops. County committees that determine farm loan qualifications often lack black epresentation. The United States now wants to expand these devastating discriminatory policies throughout the developing world. The subsidy commodity program is a prime example. Congress and corporations wanted to increase U.S. exports so they lowered the guaranteed minimum price for U.S. commodities such as cotton.(Click to Read More)