Speaking to The Washington Post, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said only 0.1% of Covid-19 relief funds the Trump administration set aside for farmers went to Black farmers, aggravating existing economic gaps.
“We saw 99 percent of the money going to White farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged farmers and if you break that down to how much went to Black farmers, it’s 0.1 percent,” Vilsack said. “Look at it another way: The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent.”
Asked why funding for Black farmers, who the news outlet notes comprise just 1.3% of American farmers, was included in the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Vilsack responded: “Two reasons. One, you’ve got this systemic racism that basically put these people behind and they’ve never caught up. This is the beginning of addressing that issue. And second is the gap in the way the Covid relief was distributed.”
“The fact that both on the health care and economic side, socially disadvantaged folks fare worse than the overall general population suggests there needs to be a focus on closing the gap between those who have and those who do not,” Vilsack noted during the interview. “How do you create more access to nutritious, healthy food and how do you make sure the programs you are utilizing don’t exacerbate the gap but actually begin to close it?”