November 19, 2020

Black Farmers Have Been Robbed of Land. A New Bill Would Give Them a “Quantum Leap” Toward Justice.

“This is the Black Farmers Civil Rights Act of 2020, and it’s long overdue.”

After the US Civil War, newly emancipated Black growers won a share of the agricultural landscape. They did so despite fierce backlash and the ultimately failed promises of Reconstruction. By the 1910s, around 200,000 Black farmers owned an estimated 20 million acres of land, mostly in the South. * That turned out to be a peak. Since then, due largely to lingering white supremacy and racist machinations within the US Department of Agriculture, the number of Black farmers has plunged by 98 percent. The remaining few managed to hold on to just 10 percent of that hard-won acreage.

A new Senate bill, called the Justice for Black Farmers Act, set to be released November 30, would mount a long-delayed federal effort to reverse the “destructive forces that were unleashed upon Black farmers over the past century—one of the dark corners of shame in American history,” lead sponsor Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told Mother Jones.

Co-sponsored with senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the bill would, among other things, create an Equitable Land Access Service within the USDA, including a fund that devotes $8 billion annually to buying farmland on the open market and granting it to new and existing Black farmers, with the goal of making 20,000 grants per year over nine years, with maximum allotments of 160 acres.

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Read the full article in Mother Jones here.



By:  Tom Philpott
Source: Mother Jones