Newswire: USDA announces next steps in providing financial assistance to borrowers who have faced discrimination

Washington, March 1, 2023 (Press Release No. 45.23) – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the first steps in its process for providing financial assistance to farmers, ranchers or forest landowners who have previously suffered discrimination with respect to USDA farm lending programs. In addition, USDA set a target of distributing the allocated funds, which were authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, out to borrowers by the end of 2023. This process has been carefully designed in accordance with the IRA, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and significant stakeholder input.
Specifically, Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, directs USDA to provide financial assistance to producers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs and has appropriated $2.2 billion for this program. Under the law, the Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for administering the assistance through qualified nongovernmental entities under standards set by USDA.
“These funds are yet another stepping stone in the long march towards justice and an inclusive, equitable USDA. Through this program and a neutral, comprehensive financial assistance process, USDA will acknowledge wrongs of the past and open up avenues that provide farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who have experienced discrimination by USDA the opportunity to be heard,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“In providing this financial assistance, our goal is to make sure eligible people have adequate, understandable information about what is available to them, how to apply, and what to expect from USDA at each step. As we work to make all our programs more equitable, accessible and accountable, we are applying these same principles to make sure all Americans know how to engage with USDA’s services so we can prevent more inequities and build new levels of trust with the People’s Department going forward.”
Following President Biden signing the IRA, USDA took immediate steps to convene listening sessions and seek public comments about the design of the program to make sure farmers, advocates, academics, legislators, tribal governments, and other experts were heard.
Now, in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the Department will soon issue contracts to nongovernmental program administrators, as the IRA specifies, that will coordinate the delivery of a national program of financial assistance to impacted farmers, ranchers or forest landowners. The vendors will include a national administrator to oversee the program and four regional hubs that will be set up to solicit and process applications efficiently. Vendors for the four regional hubs are encouraged to partner with organizations with experience in agriculture and specifically organizations that work with and represent underserved producers and have a relationship with USDA.
Organizations such as existing USDA cooperators that are interested in serving as partners to the regional hubs vendors should send an email to by March 17, 2023 to have the name and contact information of their organization added to a list of interested potential partner organizations that will be made available to all regional hub interested vendors.
In addition to a national administrator and regional hubs, USDA will partner with community-based organizations across the country with experience in agriculture and reach into underserved communities. Building on work underway with existing cooperators and grantees through NIFA, FSA, NRCS and OPPE, these organizations will conduct outreach and ensure potential applicants are informed about the program and have the opportunity to apply. Organizations that would like to serve as cooperators should express their interest through an email to by March 31, 2023.
The Department anticipates final selection of the vendors managing the program to occur by late Spring 2023. As soon as the national administrator, regional hubs, and cooperators are selected and prepared to begin the application process, USDA will work with them to disseminate specific details concerning the application period, with the goal of having payments made by the end of 2023.
The Department will also reach out to trusted cooperators that can further assist eligible farmers, ranchers, or forest landowners nearer to their locations. These trusted cooperators will be drawn from those with long-standing experience in agriculture technical assistance, outreach, and support for the farming community.
By taking these important steps to fulfill the mandates of Section 22007, USDA hopes to recognize and acknowledge the discrimination suffered by individuals, take steps to rebuild trust with communities, and create a better and stronger U.S. agriculture that is more diverse and resilient. This is one piece of a much broader effort at USDA to improve equity and access and eliminate barriers to its programs for underserved individuals and communities. More information about this work can be accessed at, where USDA will continue to share updates on its progress.

Newswire:Rural Coalition says Inflation Reduction Act contains critical provisions to provide debt modification and assistance for past discrimination for underserved farmers and ranchers

By: Rural Coalition

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by the U.S. Senate on August 7, and the U.S. House of Representatives on August 12 now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature to become a law. The
Legislation contains critical relief for at-risk producers and underserved farmers and ranchers. The IRA would authorize $3.1 billion in payments and loan modification support to distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans by the Farm Service Agency, focused on underserved farmers and borrowers whose agricultural operations are at financial risk.

During the pandemic, these producers demonstrated the critical importance of their food production to provide food security in their own communities. However, the vast majority of the market adjustment and pandemic relief aid Congress provided to other producers did not reach them, leaving them with unsustainable debt and uncertainty when promised debt relief did not materialize.

The $14.4 billion in 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments went to large commodity producers. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 99 percent of funds in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program went to White farmers with only 1 percent to socially disadvantaged farmers. “The top 10 percent of farmers in received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent. ”

Because many underserved producers produce specialty crops and livestock and are therefore not eligible for generous programs for commodity producers, direct debt relief is the most important form of relief to stabilize their operations. The Inflation Reduction Act provides the tools, authority and funding that USDA needs to employ its existing debt relief authority to stabilize their farming operations.

The IRA also contains funding to address issues of discrimination in farm loan funding for farmers and ranchers who did not receive adequate remediation from past lawsuits and settlements.

This section of the IRA is funded by resources in Section 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act and that section is officially ended, which would make the lawsuits filed by white farmers to block assistance to BIPOC farmers moot. Representatives of white farmers in the litigation indicate they will continue to monitor the distribution of USDA resources to make sure they are employed fairly in a non-discriminatory manner.

“Rural Coalition is cautiously optimistic that if the Inflation Reduction Act becomes law, underserved producers we serve will receive prompt and long-awaited support to help stabilize their operations following the pandemic and growing increases in cost of inputs and land,” said Rural Coalition Chairperson, John Zippert. “This urgently needed assistance would break the logjam that has left so many farmers and ranchers with non-unsustainable debt and an uncertain path forward.”

The IRA also authorizes $250 million in grants and loans to eligible entities to improve land access and an important investment of $125 million to support the critical technical assistance so crucial to assure underserved partners secure real access to USDA resources as well as $250 million in additional funding for agriculture-related research and education initiatives.

The IRA as passed by the Senate also provides some $2.2 billion in financial relief for farmers and ranchers deemed to have experienced discrimination by USDA’s farm lending programs. “This relief is also critical as it provides assistance to address some very longstanding injustices,” noted Zippert.

“We are aware that the inclusion of these provisions took a tremendous amount of energy and commitment to underserved producers from Senators Cory Booker and Raphael Warnock, and from House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and his House Agriculture Committee colleagues, and we are deeply thankful,” said Rural Coalition Board member Willard Tillman, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc. “We further congratulate and thank Senator Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer for including this support for farmers and local food systems in West Virginia and beyond, and for their dedication to getting this historic bill assembled and passed and sent on to the House of Representatives.”

“We urge USDA to quickly develop the regulations to implement the Inflation Reduction Act containing these critical investments in the future of underserved farmers, ranchers, and foresters, in addition to landmark investments in expanding health care and addressing climate change and making our tax code more equitable,” concluded Zippert.

The Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural is an alliance of farmers, farmworkers, indigenous, migrant and working people from the United States, Mexico, and beyond working together since 1978 toward a new society that values unity, hope, people, and the land.