Justice for Black Farmers Act: A Quantum Leap Forward or a Misguided Step Back?
On Nov. 19, 2020, Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Md., and Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act. This ambituous legislation aims to “address the history of discrimination against Black farmers” and to “prevent future discrimination” within the United States Department of Agriculture, among other objectives. The act has since been endorsed by over 100 organizations, including the National Farmers Union, a century-old union of over 200,000 family farms, and Soul Fire Farm Inc., a New York farm at the focal point of the food sovereignty and justice movement.
The legislation has five distinct titles, arguing for broad civil rights reform within the USDA, the establishment of a land grant program, increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities, sweeping credit assistance and land retention programs and systemic agricultural reforms that prioritize socially disadvantaged farmers. Title II, Section 203 of the Justice for Black Farmers Act has perhaps the most immediate implications for not just Black farmers, but any eligible Black individual across the country.