Two of the four interconnected crises prioritized by the Biden administration — climate change and systemic racism — converge on Black farmers, the New York Times reports. Decades of racial violence and racist lending and land ownership policies have nearly eliminated Black farmers in the U.S. — 2% of U.S. farms are run by Black farmers, down from 14% in 1920. The Biden administration has pledged to address and work to undo the decades of discrimination against Black, and other POC farmers and to make agriculture a key part of its efforts to fight climate change.
“We’ve waited year after year after year. We’ve fought for changes,” Shirley Sherrod, a former Georgia state director for rural development at the Department of Agriculture who was fired in 2010 over a doctored and misleading video. “Now [the USDA], and this country, really needs to figure out how to do the right thing by Black people.” Tom Vilsack, who headed USDA for the entire Obama Administration and is currently nominated to run it again, promised Black farmers “a seat at the table” during a meeting with civil rights groups last month. In 2015, less than 0.2% of the $5.7 billion of microloans issued by the USDA went to Black farmers. (New York Times $)