Black Farmers Say Federal Aid Too Late to Redress Land Loss

A feature from High Plains Public Radio explores whether debt relief payments planned by the federal government are coming too late to help generations of Black farmers pushed off their land through discriminatory practices by USDA and farm credit offices. The story of Nicodemus, Kansas, serves as an example of how Black farmers lost land and community due to discriminatory lending. Nicodemus was one of many all-Black farming settlements initiated by formerly enslaved people, and it had 150 Black farmers a hundred years ago. Today, no Nicodemus residents are active farmers, there are few Black farmers in the area, and there are just 50,000 African American farmers nationally. Currently, USDA has launched a number of efforts to change its practices and the federal debt relief program within the American Rescue Plan includes an estimated $4 billion to pay off some outstanding debts marginalized farmers owe the federal government. However, some Black farmers’ loans are ineligible for the program and others are skeptical that this plan will help, given that they have as yet received no relief through the decades-old Pigford v Glickman discrimination lawsuit settlement.