Justice for Black Farmers Act
What it does
If passed by Congress, this bill would direct USDA to remedy the agency’s historic discrimination within federal farm assistance and lending programs that caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed Black farmers and their families of the hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth that land represented. Reforms the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provide debt relief, and create a land grant program to encourage a new generation of Black farmers.
Specifically, the Justice for Black Farmers Act will:
- End Discrimination within USDA: Creates an independent civil rights oversight board to review appeals of civil rights complaints filed against USDA, investigate reports of discrimination within USDA, and provide oversight of Farm Service Agency County Committees. The Act also creates an Equity Commission and reforms the USDA Office of Civil Rights, including by placing a moratorium on foreclosures during the pendency of civil rights complaints.
- Protect Remaining Black Farmers from Land Loss: Increases funding for the Heirs' Property Relending Program at USDA to provide Black Farmers pro bono assistance, succession planning, and support for development of farmer cooperatives. The Act also creates and funds a new bank to provide financing and grants to Black farmer and rancher cooperative financial institutions, and forgives USDA debt of Black farmers who filed claims in the Pigford litigation.
- Restore the Land Base Lost by Black Farmers: Creates a new Equitable Land Access Service within USDA to acquire farmland and provide land grants of up to 160 acres to existing and aspiring Black farmers. To help ensure their success, these new Black farmers will be provided access to USDA operating loans and mortgages on favorable terms.
- Create a Farm Conservation Corps: Creates a program for young adults from socially disadvantaged communities to be provided the skills to pursue careers in farming and ranching. Participants will be paid by USDA to serve as on-farm apprentices at no cost to socially disadvantaged, beginning, and organic farmers and ranchers with annual gross farm income of less than $250,000. Black participants who gain experience through this program will have priority for land grants.
- Empower HBCUs and Advocates for Black farmers: Provides resources to 1890s and nonprofits who serve Black farmers to offer pro bono assistance in identifying land for USDA to purchase and provide as land grants; help to new Black farmers in getting up and running; technical training; and other assistance including succession planning and legal assistance. The Act also provides new funding to HBCUs to expand their agriculture research and courses of study.
- Assist All Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers: Increases funding for USDA technical assistance and for programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and Rural Energy for America Program, and gives priority for these programs, as well as increased access to capital, to all socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
- Enact System Reforms to Help All Farmers and Ranchers: In order for new and existing Black farmers to have a real chance to succeed and thrive, the bill substantially reforms and strengthens the Packers and Stockyards Act by establishing that a minimum of 50% of a covered packer's (not including a packer that owns only one livestock processing plant) daily volume of livestock slaughter must be purchased through spot market sales from nonaffiliated producers; and, increases funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program.
Who supports this bill?
The Justice for Black Farmers Act is a bicameral bill, which means that it has some support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tina Smith, Raphael Warnock, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Richard Blumenthal and Representative Alma Adams introduced the bill. In the Senate, this bill is referred to as S.96 and these Senators are already supporting the bill. In the House, this bill is referred to as H.R.1167 and these Representatives are already supporting the bill.
Over 100 organizations endorse this bill, including HEAL Food Alliance, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, National Black Food and Justice Alliance, National Organic Coalition, National Farm to School Network and Native Farm Bill Coalition.
Want to support this bill?
If your Senators and House Representative aren’t already on the list of cosponsors for the bill:
- Ask your two Senators to “cosponsor the Justice for Black Farmers Act, S.96.”
- Ask your House Representative to “cosponsor the Justice for Black Farmers Act, H.R.1167.”
If your elected officials are already supporting this bill, you can always contact them to thank them and help spread the word among your networks.
If you’d like to learn more about the Justice for Black Farmers Act, you can:
- Find instructions for calling or writing your Senators and Representative (tip: enter your address)
- Track the bill’s progress on Congress.gov or GovTrack
- Learn why lawmakers are supporting this bill (Senator Cory Booker’s press release)
- Read the full bill text
See more bills worthy of your support in the 2023 Farm Bill.