The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted last week by President Biden includes billions of dollars in debt relief and other assistance for farmers of color. However, the incorporation of race-based criteria is leaving other farmers scratching their heads.
“I’m sorry, but I was raised to not see color and not to see race, but to see the character and the person’s heart,” Tennesse farmer Kelly Griggs told Sara Carter in a “Hannity” exclusive Monday. “That’s how I was raised, that’s how the farming community sees each other.
“The government has basically said ‘OK, this is what we are doing, whether you like it or not’,” she continued. “Because farmers throughout the years, that’s what we’ve had to take.
” They’ve made policies for us without even stepping foot on our farm, without even asking us anything … and [they] make our lives even worse or divide us even more like they are doing now.”
The relief package includes an estimated $4 billion to pay up to 120% of Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American farmers’ outstanding debt as of Jan. 1, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The package also designates about $1 billion for equity commissions, agricultural training, improved land access and other assistance.
“If you go into a bank, if you go into any place that loans you money, they are not going to look at who you are by color or race, they are going to look at your numbers on a piece of paper and if you don’t meet that criteria and you don’t meet that rule, you don’t get that money,” Griggs said.
Black farmers accounted for approximately one-sixth of farmers in 1920, but fewer than 2% of farms were run by Black producers by 2017, according to USDA data.
The USDA has faced accusations of discrimination for years. The class-action Pigford lawsuit settled by the government in 1999 for $1.25 billion was supposed to help farmers who claimed they were unfairly denied loans and other government assistance.
“I think this bill could not only divide — promote division in the farming community,” Matt Griggs said, “[but also] just in people in general.”
Fox News’ Evie Fordham contributed to this report.