Posted on March 12, 2021

Farmers React to Billions in COVID-19 Relief Bill for Black Farmers

Evie Fordham, Fox News, March 11, 2021

The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that President Biden is set to sign includes billions of dollars in debt relief and other assistance for farmers of color.

But the incorporation of race-based criteria for that relief is leaving other farmers scratching their heads.

“Just because you’re a certain color you don’t have to pay back money? I don’t care if you’re purple, black, yellow, white, gray, if you borrow money you have to pay it back,” Kelly Griggs, who runs her 1,800-acre farm with her husband in Humboldt, Tennessee, told Fox News in an interview.

“My reaction is, Where did common sense go?” Griggs said. “We can’t strike. We can’t stop. That’s the part that really sucks. These people in Washington who make decisions for us and our livelihood have probably never stepped foot on a real farm.”

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 to advance racial justice in farming.


Black farmers accounted for approximately one-sixth of farmers in 1920, but less than 2% of farms were run by Black producers by 2017, according to USDA data.


Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., took issue with racial justice in agriculture provisions contemplated in the bill.

“What happened to equal protection under the law? This is wrong and un-American. I’m sure there are a lot of Americans out there that would love to have our tax dollars pay off all their debts. This is targeted to a very select few,” Graves wrote on Facebook on March 4.

Kelly Griggs echoed his sentiment.

“I’m going to have to pay for that,” she told Fox News.


The racial justice in farming provisions in the massive relief package were based on a bill spearheaded by Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., called the “Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act.”