In the past, most of our food was produced on family farms and local ranches. Since World War II, agribusinesses have slowly gained power and influence over food and agricultural policy, making it more difficult for these operations to exist.

I find it appalling that white farmers in Texas — including the state’s agriculture commissioner — have joined black money interests in suing to block a federal tax relief program. debt for struggling black farmers and other marginalized farmers. White farmers in other states – including Wisconsin, Florida and Tennessee – have also filed lawsuits against the program, alleging “reverse” discrimination.

We should lift each other up, not bring each other down. As long as farmers are pitted against farmers, regardless of race or size, rural America – and the rest of the country – will suffer.

Each year, hundreds of family farmers file for bankruptcy and thousands more take on more debt. Nearly half of these farmers take on second jobs to survive. Meanwhile, multinational corporations like Tyson, Cargill and Perdue Foods are winning 80% of farm subsidies. Just four companies in each sector control 85% of the seed corn market, 90% of grain trading and 63% of food retailing. Of the $4.9 billion in Covid 2020-related farmer relief funds, more than three-quarters went to the top 20% of producers.

For half a century, the US government has backed big agribusiness at the expense of smallholdings, pushing more and more family farmers out of business and off their land. This unfair treatment has been particularly harsh on black, indigenous and other marginalized producers who have been subject to discriminatory practices by the USDA, including the denial and mismanagement of FSA loans allowing banks, developers and big business from stealing their land. Discrimination by the USDA stole $326 billion in acreage from black farmers during the 20th century, according to a new study from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

It’s been 18 months since the $4 billion federal debt relief package for black and other marginalized producers was passed as part of the US bailout, but no relief has come for the 15,000 farmers and breeders of color who asked because of these bogus lawsuits. Some continue to invest in expensive equipment, seeds and fertilizers to maintain their operations without knowing if they will even have a farm to operate next season. Others received notices warning them of a possible foreclosure; while the USDA said these were automatic mailings that should be rejected, no farmer can ignore the stress of not knowing if their debts will eventually be due. All because a handful of white farmers have been misled into believing that ignoring decades of racial discrimination within the USDA will somehow benefit them.

The Southern Cooperative Federation, a founding member of the National Family Farm Coalition which has been advocating for the rights and interests of black farmers, landowners and voters since 1967, works alongside the USDA to advocate for the relief program of the debt. The Federation is seeking statements from farmers or ranchers of color who have experienced discrimination at the USDA, and from white farmers who have observed discrimination in the past 10 to 15 years. If you have experienced or noticed such discrimination, please contact the Federation by June 24, 2022 to show solidarity with your fellow farmers.

Small and medium-sized farmers must remain united; it’s the only way to survive and thrive.


Jim Goodman is the Chairman of the Board of the National Family Farm Coalition and a retired organic dairy farmer from Wisconsin..

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Commentary: United to defend debt relief for black farmers

In the past, most of our food was produced on family farms and local ranches. Since World War II, agribusinesses have slowly gained power and influence over food and agricultural policy, making it more difficult for these operations to exist.

I find it appalling that white farmers in Texas – including the state’s commissioner of agriculture – have joined black money interest to file a lawsuit to block a federal debt relief program for struggling black and other marginalized farmers. White farmers in other states – including Wisconsin, Florida and Tennessee – have also filed lawsuits against the program, citing “reverse” discrimination.

We should lift each other up, not bring each other down. As long as farmers are pitted against farmers, regardless of race or size, rural America – and the rest of the country – will suffer.

Each year, hundreds of family farmers file the balance sheet, and thousands more are going deeper into debt. Almost half of these farmers take a second job to survive. Meanwhile, multinational corporations like Tyson, Cargill and Perdue Foods are winning 80% of farm subsidies. Only four companies in each sector control 85% of the corn seed market, 90% of the grain trade and 63% of food retail. Of the $4.9 billion in Covid-related farmer relief funds in 2020, more than three-quarters went to the top 20% of producers.

For half a century, the US government has backed big agribusiness at the expense of smallholdings, pushing more and more family farmers out of business and off their land. This unfair treatment has been particularly harsh on black, indigenous and other marginalized producers who have been subject to discriminatory practices by the USDA, including the denial and mismanagement of FSA loans allowing banks, developers and big business from stealing their land. USDA discrimination has flown, says new study from University of Massachusetts-Boston $326 billion in acreage owned by black farmers in the 20th century.

It’s been 18 months since the $4 billion federal debt relief package for black and other marginalized producers was passed as part of the US bailout, but no relief has come for the 15,000 farmers and breeders of color who applied because of these bogus lawsuits. Some continue to invest in expensive equipment, seeds and fertilizers to maintain their operations without knowing if they will even have a farm to operate next season. Others received notices warning them of a possible foreclosure; while the USDA said these were automatic mailings that should be rejected, no farmer can ignore the stress of not knowing if their debts will eventually be due. All because a handful of white farmers have been misled into believing that ignoring decades of racial discrimination within the USDA will somehow benefit them.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a founding member of the National Family Farm Coalition which has been advocating for the rights and interests of black farmers, landowners and voters since 1967, works alongside the USDA to advocate for the debt relief program. The Federation search statements farmers or ranchers of color who have experienced discrimination at the USDA, and white farmers who have observed discrimination, over the past 10 to 15 years. If you have experienced or observed such discrimination, please contact the Federation by June 24, 2022 to show solidarity with your fellow farmers.

Small and medium-sized farmers must remain united; it’s the only way to survive and thrive.


Jim Goodman is the National Chairman of the Board of the Family Farm Coalition and a retired organic dairy farmer from Wisconsin..

This article a> first appeared on The Daily Yonder and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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