1,000 signatures reached
To: Joe Biden, President-Elect
Sign Our Petition in Support of the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 to Cancel Pigford Debt
Sign on to the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020, historic legislation that provides full debt cancellation of both USDA direct and guaranteed loans, federal tax relief, and a foreclosure moratorium for Black legacy farmers who filed claims under the Pigford v. Glickman Consent Decree. For decades, our legacy farmers have unjustly borne the weight of unconscionable debt to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Black Farmers’ Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign is a grassroots organizing, popular education, and legal advocacy campaign to rectify the injustices of the Pigford v. Glickman class action racial discrimination lawsuit. Inspired by David Walker’s impassioned entreaty against the chattel enslavement of Africans in the United States, the Black Farmers’ Appeal: Cancel Pigford Debt Campaign is a polemic against yet another form of racialized capitalism–usurious debt.
Our coalition is comprised of a multigenerational tribe of farmers, attorneys, writers, artists, and musicians using our diverse magic to bring restorative land justice to our Black legacy farmers. We use diverse strategies to preserve the Black agricultural land base, exploring innovative collaborations that deepen the linkages of music, culture, ecocultural traditions, and cooperative economy to protect Black landownership and stewardship, while raising community awareness, collectivism, and action. We also merge the aims of our campaign with our cooperative economy works with fiber artists, heritage quilters, and keepers of material culture.
View the full text of the bill here: https://www.booker.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Justice%20for%20Black%20Farmers%20Act%20of%202020%20Bill.pdf
View the Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund Community Primer on the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020 here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHyJAqhgjmS/
View Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund and other endorsers here: https://www.booker.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/JUSTICE%20FOR%20BLACK%20FARMERS%20ACT%20endorsements%20-%20new%20order.pdf
Why is this important?
In 1997, the USDA released the Civil Rights Action Team (CRAT) Report, a condemning report that affirmed Black farmer narratives of pervasive government-sanctioned racial discrimination against them through the Farm Service Agency and county committee systems. Later that year, farmer-plaintiffs Timothy Pigford, Cecil Brewington, Lucious Abrams, George Hall, Eddie Ross, and Lloyd Shaffer filed class action lawsuits, charging the USDA with discrimination against Black farmers in the distribution of loans as well as failure to investigate complaints regarding widespread systemic racial animus. The goal of the Pigford lawsuit was to restore Black farmers and their agricultural land base through full debt cancellation, federal and state tax relief, monetary compensation, priority of lending services, and access to land.
After the lawsuit, the vast majority of Black farmers were left with crushing debts originating from the racist misdeeds of USDA, threat of foreclosures, and no legal recourse to save their family farms. The $1 billion settlement was paid out mostly in $50,000 cash payments to 15,645 claimants. Only 4.8% of the $1 billion settlement went to debt relief. 6,906 farmers were denied the cash payments and debt relief. Most of the 6,906 were actual farmers with verifiable farm identification numbers. According to recent USDA, 17,000 Black legacy farmers are delinquent on their loans with USDA. Our farmers have been under threat of foreclosure ranging from 5 to 30 years. Over the years, aging Black farmers have delayed foreclosures by filing pro se complaints in federal court. The USDA continues to offset Black farmers’ tax refunds, social security, disability, and subsidy payments to cover outstanding debts.
Decades of farmer-led organizing combined with our heightened efforts over the last three years laid the groundwork for the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020. Introduced by U.S. Senators Corey Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand the Justice for Black Farmers Act, is historic legislation that finally includes comprehensive debt cancellation for our Black legacy farmers. Due to Congress being out of session today, the Act will be officially introduced by U.S. Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand on November 30th. In order to claim this victory for our farmers, we need to activate our collective power. Thank you to all of our supporters that have helped amplify our campaign and raise awareness of the plight of our Black legacy farmers. In the words of June Jordan, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.”
The legacy of the Pigford lawsuit is the theft of Black farms through usurious debt. Now is the time to rectify this shameful chapter in U.S. history. We urge President-Elect Joe Biden and the new Congress to quickly enact the Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020.
How it will be delivered
We will email signatures.