It is no secret that for generations, Black and other farmers of color have encountered discriminatory practices at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and these practices resulted in loss in access to capital and loss of land. Today, the USDA took an important step to dismantle these practices by formally establishing the Equity Commission Advisory Committee and Equity Commission Subcommittee on Agriculture.
This commission is the product of one of President Biden’s first acts in office, an executive order on advancing racial equity, and the American Rescue Plan, which delivered direct relief to the American people. Through this law, Congress directed USDA to establish an Equity Commission, specifically to advance equity and opportunities for the farmers and ranchers of color who have been historically underserved and excluded by the agency. The new law also provided USDA with additional funding (approximately $50 million) to support the effort.
Even the most needed changes do not always happen quickly, so it is important to note when our federal government acknowledges the racial discrimination of past practices, and takes tangible steps to remedy the mistreatment of the nation’s farmers and ranchers of color.
NRDC is hopeful, as voiced by Marc Morial, National Urban League President, that the right circumstances will prevail at USDA and we will remain vigilant until real change occurs.