Showing posts with label Black Farmers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Farmers. Show all posts

Friday, July 05, 2024

National Black Farmers Association Calls for Immediate Resignation of Tractor Supply President

The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) is calling for the immediate resignation of Tractor Supply President Hal Lawton following the company's recent decision to cut diversity-focused positions and withdraw its carbon-emissions goals in response to right-wing pressure.

Tractor Supply, one of the country's largest farm-supply retailers, announced on Thursday (June 27, 2024) that it would refocus on its "85-year-old culture" and step away from "political agendas." This decision has been met with outrage from the NBFA, a non-profit organization that represents tens of thousands of African American farmers and their families nationwide.

According to Tractor Supply's statement, this decision does not change the company's commitment to its customers and team members, and providing a welcoming and respectful environment. However, NBFA President John Boyd, a shareholder and customer of Tractor Supply, believes otherwise.

"Tractor Supply has shown with its broken promises that it has little respect for black farmers," said Boyd. "As President of the NBFA, I am appalled by this decision, which is reflective of the ongoing racial tension and division in America. This affects our 130,000 members, many of whom regularly shop at Tractor Supply. Having repeatedly attempted to discuss our concerns with Mr. Hal Lawton, I am now calling for his immediate resignation."

Last year, Tractor Supply celebrated its recognition for pursuing workplace diversity. In its February annual report, the company stated its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and announced new initiatives aimed at achieving these goals. However, the recent decision to roll back these initiatives has sparked outrage and disappointment among black farmers and their supporters.

"Diversity and inclusion play a key role in moving our business forward," Tractor Supply said in its annual report. "Our workforce is approximately 51% male and 49% female, and racial and ethnic minorities comprise about 18% of our workforce."

In addition to diversity, Tractor Supply also pledged to cut its carbon footprint by 20% by 2025 and by 50% by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions across all operations by 2040. These commitments, along with the company's recognition for its pursuit of diversity, gave hope to many farmers, especially those from underrepresented communities.

But as Boyd pointed out, Tractor Supply continues to participate in predominantly white farm shows and events while snubbing events and opportunities for black farmers. The company has never displayed a booth or sponsored an event or training opportunity for black farmers, denying them the respect and dignity they deserve. This behavior is reflective of the widespread disdain that still exists in the agricultural industries towards people of color.

Many sectors of American society have taken action to address the shameful racial disparities that plague people of color. However, Tractor Supply has not followed suit. As an association that represents a substantial customer base for Tractor Supply, the NBFA believes its members deserve the same consideration as other agricultural associations and non-profits, who enjoy discounts on Tractor Supply purchases and program support.

"We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not as a nuisance," said Boyd.

For more information on this matter, please contact NBFA President John Boyd at Johnwesleyboydjr@gmail.com or 434-210-2286.

The NBFA is a non-profit organization that represents African American farmers and their families in the United States. Its education and advocacy efforts focus on civil rights, land retention, access to loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for black and other small farmers.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Financial Assistance Application Process Opens for USDA Farm Loan Borrowers Who Have Faced Discrimination

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the opening of the financial assistance application process for eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination in USDA farm lending programs prior to January 2021. Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) directs USDA to provide this assistance. Since the law’s passage, USDA has worked diligently to design the program in accordance with significant stakeholder input. 

“The opening of the application process is an important step in delivering on our commitment of providing financial assistance to those who faced discrimination in USDA farm lending, as swiftly and efficiently as possible,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA will continue to work with our national vendor partners and community-based organizations to make sure eligible farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have clear information about what is available to them, how to apply, and where to obtain assistance with their questions at each step of the way.” 

The program website, 22007apply.gov, is now open. The website includes an English- and Spanish-language application that applicants can download or submit via an e-filing portal, information on how to obtain technical assistance in-person or virtually, and additional resources and details about the program. 

Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who experienced discrimination by USDA in its farm loan programs prior to January 1, 2021 and/or are currently debtors with assigned or assumed USDA farm loan debt that was the subject of USDA discrimination that occurred prior to January 1, 2021, are eligible for this program.  

To apply, borrowers have the option to apply via the e-filing portal at 22007apply.gov or submit paper-based forms via mail or in-person delivery to the program’s local offices. The application process will be open from July 7 to October 31, 2023. Under the planned timeline, applications will be reviewed in November and December, with payments reaching recipients soon thereafter. Importantly, applicants should know that the application process is not on a first come, first served, basis. All applications received or postmarked before the October 31 deadline will be considered. 

To support producers throughout the application process, USDA is ensuring that organizations with extensive experience conducting outreach to farm organizations are able to support individuals who may be eligible for the program. These groups include AgrAbility  Farmer Veteran Coalition Farmers’ Legal Action Group Federation of Southern Cooperatives Intertribal Agriculture Council Land Loss Prevention Project  National Young Farmers Coalition and Rural Coalition  

Vendors operating four regional hubs are also providing technical assistance and working closely with these and other community-based organizations to conduct outreach using digital and grassroots strategies, to ensure potential applicants are informed about the program and have the opportunity to apply. These hubs are operating a network of brick-and-mortar program offices and will conduct extensive outreach about the program. Windsor Group serves farmers in the eastern regions of the U.S. and Analytic Acquisitions serves the western regions. A national administrator, Midtown Group, is responsible for program oversight and integrity, and will lead a national call-center, operate the application website - 22007apply.gov, which is now open – and review and process applications and payments. All vendors have experience in professional services, supporting government contracts, and complex program operations.   

On March 1, 2023, USDA shared initial details on how the Section 22007 program will work, including that the Inflation Reduction Act specifies the Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for providing this assistance through qualified nongovernmental entities, under standards set by USDA. USDA entered into agreements with vendors and cooperators in May.   

In addition to the Discrimination Financial Assistance Program (DFAP) opening today, the Inflation Reduction Act also created several other programs that are helping USDA rebuild trust, address systemic issues and improve service to people who may have been underserved by USDA in the past. Information about USDA’s equity agenda and progress is available at www.usda.gov/equity.

In standing up this program, USDA has become aware of some lawyers and groups spreading misleading information about the discrimination assistance process, pressuring people to sign retainer agreements, and asking people to fill out forms with private and sensitive information. As of today, the official application process has begun and filling out an application is free

No attorneys’ fees will be paid to applicants or their counsel by USDA or by any other agency or department of the United States. The amount of financial assistance will not be increased for those claimants who are represented by an attorney. Applicants are not required to retain an attorney. USDA, the national administrator, and the regional hub vendors will neither recommend that any applicant retain counsel or retain a specific attorney or law firm, nor discourage an applicant from obtaining counsel or using a specific attorney or law firm. For more information, read our fact sheet about the program timeline and ways to protect against possible scams.  

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

National Black Farmers Association Statement on removal of Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color from Inflation Reduction Act

John Boyd, Founder an President, National Black Farmers Association released the following statement on the removal of Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color from Inflation Reduction Act:

After fighting for debt relief for over 3 decades, Boyd was elated when the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color was passed and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Boyd met with Biden during the SC primaries to discuss the plight of Black Farmers and it was agreed upon that Biden would address Black Farmer issues. Again, last July (2021), Biden reaffirmed to Boyd he would have a face time meeting with him to discuss the ongoing struggles and delay of America’s Black Farmers getting the long sought-after debt relief.

What could be worse than having another President to overturn legislation you enacted to help Black and other Farmers of Color during a pandemic; repealing your own legislation to take it away while they are being served foreclosure notices in a recession with the highest record of input costs in 40 years while sending hundreds of millions in aid to Ukraine farmers.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Section 22008 repeals the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Section 1005 which provided Black, Native and other Farmers of Color debt relief.

“I’m very, very disappointed in this legislative action,” he said in response to reading the final bill passed by the Senate. “I’m prepared to fight for debt relief for Black, Native American and other farmers of color all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not going to stop fighting this.”

“Discrimination at USDA against Black Farmers was rampant and severe. Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist.”>

Sunday, January 30, 2022

National Black Farmers Association calls out PepsiCo for failure to keep agreement

John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), is calling out Pepsico after a year and half of all talk and no contract following a verbal commitment to Black farmers.

NBFA raised concerns over the gargantuan company's failure to contract with members of the NBFA to provide agricultural products that form the foundation of their firm's processes. Only White farmers have been afforded the opportunity to share in PepsiCo's enormous profits. It prefers the superficial responses to public opinion such as changing the brand image of its stereotyped figure Aunt Jemima. PepsiCo immediately reached out to the NBFA on June 19th 2020 in the face of such controversy.

However, as PepsiCo indicated they wanted to do business with NBFA members, the company insisted that our growers share personal information through our national data base. A year and a half later, when NBFA growers met all the required elements for a potato delivery contract, the company's executives apparently had lost interest in keeping its part of the bargain.

In an appalling stunt, PepsiCo executives recently notified the President of the NBFA that it would not be moving forward with any contracts for NBFA members.

"PepsiCo had decided to "move in a new direction" that would not include NBFA black farmer members, we were told.

Our outrage at this kind of bullying discrimination is not just about hurt feelings. Our livelihood and financial stability is at stake when we encounter such blatantly low-level business practices. Some black famers have actually lost their farms amid this unethical and inhumane treatment. The NBFA is seeking legal counsel regarding PepsiCo's verbal commitment for a potato contract.

Boyd is calling on PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta to meet with NBFA leaders and respond to the hardship and realities his company's latest recent discriminatory act has caused."

Thursday, March 11, 2021

'Graham needs to go back to church': Jim Clyburn reacts to Lindsey Graham's reparations comment

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) reacts to Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) comments that the billions of dollars in aid to Black farmers in the Covid-19 relief bill are reparations.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

The COVID-19 relief bill includes $5 billion in aid for farmers of color

For over a century, Black farmers faced discrimination from the US Department of Agriculture and were largely excluded from federal loans and farm improvement initiatives.

In an effort led by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed on Saturday included Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act which is a $5 billion provision that will forgive debts for Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other farmers of color, to enable reforms that will assist farmers with building generational wealth.

Warnock's measure includes references to several other issues that are a priority for the Black agricultural community, such as heir’s property, access to the legal system, and better support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal of the measure is also to help instill generational wealth into Black farming families.

Warnock, who is the first Black senator to serve from Georgia, told Rolling Stone magazine that this federal assistance “will not only help farmers of color, but will also lift up the economies of our rural communities working to recover from the economic turndown.”

“We are one more important step closer to bringing emergency debt relief to Black, Native American and other Farmers of Color in this country,” John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association, said in a statement. “Generations of discriminatory behavior by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has contributed to significant economic differences between white farmers and farmers of color that directly impact their access to credit. Sec. 1005 and Sec. 1006 of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will help address the ongoing effects of discrimination by reducing the risk of foreclosure and increasing access to credit.”

Among its many facets, the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act directs the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack to “pay to each lender of farm loans guaranteed by the Secretary an amount equal to the principal and interest outstanding as of the date of enactment of this Act on all farm loans held by the lender, the borrowers of which are socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, such that the borrowers shall be relieved of the obligation to repay the principal and interest due on those guaranteed farm loans.”

Saturday, August 03, 2019

USDA Gave Almost 100 Percent Of Farm Bailout To White Farmers

Last July, the Trump administration announced a major new subsidy program designed to help farmers weather America’s ongoing trade war with China. That initiative—dubbed the Market Facilitation Program (MFP)—has become the single largest source of subsidies for farmers.

While many writers have documented the struggles of farmers affected by the trade war, few have scrutinized the distributional effects of the MFP. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has documented that the program has disproportionately helped wealthy landowners and a recent analysis by Donald Carr, a senior advisor for EWG, argues that the MFP has deepened the disadvantages of black and minority farmers.

Data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request showed that the MFP has almost exclusively benefitted white men and their families, who appear to be disproportionately upper middle-class or wealthy. These payments further entrench already drastic inequalities in agriculture, along racial, ethnic, gender, and class lines.

Similar to other USDA subsidies, the MFP has overwhelmingly favored white and male producers. We recently received data from a FOIA request that show the department has funneled more than 99 percent of bailout funds to white operators.

As of today, USDA has distributed more than $8.5 billion to farm operations through the MFP. Of the approximately $8 billion distributed to operations whose owners’ race could be identified, 99.5 percent went to white business owners. Of the more than $6.8 billion distributed to operations in which the owners’ gender could be identified, more than 91 percent went to male business owners. “White farm operators” here includes white Hispanics, but they only account for about 0.1 percent of the total. In other words, non-Hispanic white operators received 99.4 percent of all MFP payments.

The racial disparities are just as stark in states with sizable non-white farmer populations. In Mississippi, for example, where 38 percent of the population is black and 14 percent of farms have a black principal operator, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, only 1.4 percent of the $200 million distributed to farmers through the MFP went to black operators.

Not only did almost all of the funds go to white operators, but an overwhelming share of the funds appear to have gone to upper-middle class and wealthy families. The average family that produces soybeans has a much higher income—and a lot more wealth—than the average family in the U.S. But a disproportionate share of MFP money has been paid out to families operating large-scale farms, who have even more wealth.

These disparities are the result of historical and recent discrimination. The federal government played a role in withholding farmland from, and dispossessing, farmers of color, especially black and Native American ones. And as we documented in a recent article, USDA has done little to address its atrocious civil rights record. The MFP continues to exacerbate these racial inequalities today.

[SOURCE: FARMBILLLAW.ORG]