Into America

Justice for Black Farmers

Episode Summary

Black farmers have been losing land for decades. Now, debt relief from the USDA is trying to make up for its history of mistreatment.

Episode Notes

Tucked inside the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, is $5 billion worth of aid to help Black and disadvantaged farmers. The American Rescue Plan includes $4 billion to erase debt for any farmer with an outstanding loan that involves the USDA.  And an additional $1 billion dollars has been planned for training, technical assistance, and legal aid... all aimed at helping farmers of color acquire and maintain land, after decades of discrimination from the USDA.

Eddie Lewis III is a 5th generation sugarcane farmer from Youngsville, Louisiana. He and his brothers farm the land their ancestors were once sharecroppers on. The Lewis family has paid off millions of dollars in debt to the USDA, and they still have $600,000 in debt remaining. Lewis was thrilled to hear about the relief package because without help, the family is at risk of foreclosure.

Lewis joins Trymaine Lee for this episode of Into America, along with John Boyd from the National Black Farmers Association. Boyd walks us through the details of the legislation, and the history of discrimination that has made it so necessary. 

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