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Farmers for Trump. Donald Trump 2020 South Dakota. Photo: Laura Seaman

US land restitution bill could increase black owned farmland seven-fold

Three Democratic senators have proposed a bill to "reverse decades of discrimination" by the agriculture ministry. The US land restitution bill echoes the disastrous ideological agricultural policies of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Published: November 25, 2020, 7:26 am

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    The Black Farmer Justice Act would allow black farmers to receive up to 160 acres each for free through a USDA land grant system. According to the Pigford Agreements of 1999 and 2010, the government had agreed to compensate black farmers who suffered from discriminatory practices, such as the denial of USDA loans and the slow processing of civil rights complaints.

    Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, is the lead sponsor of the bill “to create a new generation of Black farmers and begin to restore the land base that has been lost by Black farmers due to outrageous discrimination over past decades”. Co-sponsors of the bill are Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

    The bill is an attempt “to purge the USDA of its ongoing legacy of racism” MotherJones reported.  An oversight board will be appointed to review civil rights complaints and investigate racial discrimination.

    In 1920, there were 925 708 black farmers, representing 17 percent of American farmers. A century later, according to the 2017 Agricultural Census, there were 35 470 farms with black producers, or just 1,7 percent of the US total.

    Black-owned farms are, on average, less than one-third the size of the average American farm, and their net farm cash income is one-twelfth of the national average, according to the latest census of the United States. Whites represent 97 percent of all producers.

    In South Africa, the adverse propaganda against white food-producing farmers include repeated exaggerations and lies about the ratio of white to black land ownership. The purpose of this stigmatisation is to turn public opinion against white farmers. The ratio of white to black land ownership no longer stands at 87:13 but rather at around 65:35, according to Frans Cronjé from the SA Institute of Race Relations. And this does not even include black tribal communal land owned by the government situated in prime agricultural areas.

    Also, South African property rights on the allocated farms take the form of leases, rather than private title, making it impossible for black beneficiaries to secure bank loans without collateral. Almost 90 percent of all black-owned farms are therefore a complete failure today plagued by maladministration, incompetency and corruption.  Black beneficiaries have been unable to produce any marketable surplus, according to research done by the Transvaal Agricultural Union.

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