FL minority farmers struggle for federal aid; AG Fried’s commissioner says most aid has gone to white farmers
Following lawsuits in a few states, including Florida, which blocked federal relief funds for minority farmers and ranchers, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Monday stressed the importance of protecting and provide equal opportunities for minority farmers who provide food to families.
“Giving an equal opportunity for our local farmers and our minority and socially disenfranchised farmers to stand up and participate in this market is so essential,” Fried said. “They’re not asking for a hand, they’re just asking for a hand.”
She said 99% of “pandemic relief” last year went to white farmers under the previous Trump administration.
Last week, a Florida federal court judge barred black farmers and other “socially disadvantaged” groups from receiving COVID-19 relief funds as part of the US bailout.
The $ 4 billion federal dollars is aimed at addressing a history of systemic discrimination against black and brown farmers in USDA loans, as previously reported by the Florida Phoenix.
Fried, the only democrat elected statewide, was joined by Elide Santos of Dragon Fruit Nature Farms, during a press conference Monday at Florida International University in Miami.
Santos explained how she struggled to get federal help for her farm during the pandemic. “It’s important for the USDA to reach out to the Latino and Black community to introduce them to programs that could benefit them,” Santos said.
The Florida lawsuit involves North Florida farmer Scott Wynn, who argued he was excluded from federal aid because he was white. Lawsuits have been filed in other states such as Wisconsin and Texas by conservative and libertarian nonprofits.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the federal program is aimed at “socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers.”
According to the lawsuit, this is specific language regarding the American Rescue Plan which defines a “socially disadvantaged group” as the producers of “groups whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity. as members of a group regardless of their individual qualities.
These groups include African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, Alaskan natives, immigrants, and others from minority populations.
“I will continue to support, side with and support our local farmers who are socially disenfranchised and know that we are making progress in advancing this law,” Fried concluded.
“We are in this fight, we are ready and we will continue to fight as we move forward. “