- The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021 includes a provision that includes a total of $4 billion in debt relief for black farmers and farmers of color.
- The provision directs the USDA to make payments to farmers of color that equal up to 120% of all direct loans and USDA-backed loans.
- Two other bills also await Senate review that could help provide farmers of color with more agricultural opportunity: The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act and the Justice for Black Farmers Act.
In the recently-passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021, farmers of color received a breath of relief as the bill includes debt-relief funds for socially disadvantaged farmers; including hemp farmers.
The new legislation informs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will be making payments to farmers of color that equal 120% of all direct loans and USDA-backed loans. These payments are available for farmers who are in “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice.”
The extra funding is intended to cover taxes that have accumulated from the debt.
This provision of the American Rescue Plan closely resembles one in the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, which was introduced to the Senate last month by Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Cory Booker of New Jersey, both Democratic Senators.
There is also the Justice for Black Farmers Act, which is also pending the Senate’s approval. This bill, if approved, would help issue land grants to black farmers to help them recover from land losses (Black Americans own just 1% of rural land in the country). It would also provide additional debt relief along with research funding for historically black colleges and universities across the country.
For hemp farmers, this debt relief will make a big difference going into the next growing season. Rather than being financially crippled and having to make certain sacrifices during the growing process, farmers of color will have an opportunity to put their financial focus elsewhere. So far, 2021 looks to be a promising year for the hemp industry, and for the increasing quality and popularity of CBD products.