Miscellaneous

Gov. Deval Patrick and Gov. Steve Bullock: FL Judge’s Ruling Ignores Decades of Black Farmers Being Left Behind

American Bridge 21st Century Co-Chairs Condemn District Court Ruling Against Section 1005 of American Rescue Plan

Today, American Bridge 21st Century co-chairs Governor Deval Patrick and Governor Steve Bullock issued statements following a nationwide preliminary injunction granted in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan. Section 1005, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, provided debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers. In March, the Washington Post wrote the program is “benefiting Black farmers in a way that some experts say no legislation has since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” 

According to a 2018 Tufts University study, Black farmers in the United States lost over $120 billion in wealth between 1920 and 2012. In addition, they noted, “the USDA has systematically discriminated against Black farmers and failed to include them equally in farm programs and loans… Today, Black farmers own only about 1% of US farmland.” Furthermore, according to the Environment Working Group (EWG), nearly 97% of the $9.2 billion in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program relief distributed by the Trump administration for farmers through October 2020 went to White farmers. 

“Wednesday’s ruling in District Court continues a century-long streak of governmental discrimination against Black and minority farmers and ranchers when it comes to government assistance. The reality is the Trump administration failed to give Black farmers the support and relief they needed during COVID-19. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan attempted to level the playing field for Black farmers and Wednesday’s ruling puts that long-overdue progress at risk. This injunction must be lifted so we can finally right this wrong and build a brighter, more equitable future for all farmers” said American Bridge 21st Century co-chair Governor Deval Patrick, who is also a former Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration.  

“The American Rescue Plan was two steps forward for Black farmers across the nation and today’s ruling has once again put them one step back. Farming is a proud tradition in the United States and historic inequalities can’t be ignored or wished away. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the hardships of being a farmer in today’s economy and the American Rescue Plan’s attempt to address long standing inequities in the agriculture industry is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We sincerely hope that this injunction will be lifted on appeal so that Black and minority farmers can get the relief they so desperately need,” said American Bridge 21st Century co-chair Governor Steve Bullock.