Black Farmers in Arkansas Fight USDA for Fair Discrimination Relief
The Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFFA) has met with black farmers in Arkansas to provide information on applying for financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has $2.2 billion set aside as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2021 for farmers who have experienced discrimination prior to January 2021, but the BFFA has criticized the complexity of the application process. The BFFA has filed a lawsuit accusing the USDA of arbitrarily denying access to funds due to the complexity of the 40-page application form and has also objected to the inability to apply on behalf of deceased family members.
Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association Meets With Arkansas Black Farmers
The Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) met with numerous black farmers from Arkansas at the Pine Bluff Convention Center to discuss financial aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This financial support is a part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2021, with $2.2 billion designated for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners who experienced discrimination prior to 2021 from the USDA.
The USDA’s website states:
USDA recognizes the Department has not done enough historically to ensure all customers have equal access to its programs and services.
The president of the BFAA, Thomas Burrell, claimed the application process for these funds is overly complicated, with an intimidating 40-page application form.
Burrell argues the complexities of the application will disproportionately deny funding to the African American community, with any leftover funds going to other farming communities.
Burrell added that the BFAA has filed a federal court motion arguing the application is ‘flimsical’ and ‘arbitrary’.
Despite a lawsuit from the BFAA opposing the original deadline, the USDA extended the application deadline to January, the day before the trial.
Jaquelyn Wilber Smith, a Grady Arkansas farmer, shared experiences of loan denials and observed white female farmers with similar credit receiving triple the loan amount.
Wilber-Smith also highlighted the convoluted nature of the application, suggesting it could dissuade some farmers from applying.
Jimmy L. Jackson criticized the application for not allowing submissions on behalf of deceased family members, arguing this impedes on preserving family legacies.
Burrell echoed this sentiment and said that most attendees were seeking financial aid for their deceased relatives, which he characterized as “un-American”.
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