Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Black Farmers, Reparations

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Promises To Pay Black Farmers $5B In Reparations, Despite Unconstitutional Ruling

Black farmers - -who make up 1.4% of the country's farmers -- have continued to fight against discriminatory practices both currently and historically.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy promises to pay Black farmers $5 billion in reparations. 

During a podcast interview with the founder of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), John Boyd Jr., the candidate discussed his proposal and how Black farmers got the short end of the stick with financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under President Joe Biden’s America Rescue Plan in 2021. “I can tell you that when I’m in the White House, you’re going to be out there the first week; I’m going to get rid of those people in USDA and get that money,” Kennedy said. 

However, that may be difficult as a federal judge paused Biden’s effort to provide $4 billion relief to farmers of color. In 2021, according to the New York Post, Judge William Griesbach ruled that the program doesn’t consider the financial status of applicants — only race

Griesbach claimed there was no evidence of “intentional discrimination” by USDA in recent agriculture subsidies or pandemic relief efforts.

Biden’s plan targeted helping “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” get back on track following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, according to the USDA’s agricultural website, “socially disadvantaged farmers” were “defined as a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.”

Black farmers—who make up 1.4% of the country’s farmers—have continued to fight against discriminatory practices both currently and historically. However, white farmers in Texas, Florida, and the Midwest took offense to the provision and challenged it with a lawsuit from the Wisconsin Institute For Law & Liberty (WILL) and America First Legal (AFL).

Jacksonville federal Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued a preliminary injunction, describing the bill as appearing “to create an inflexible, race-based discriminatory program.”

Boyd said he has pulled his support of Biden’s reelection bid because of his minimal attention to “struggling Black farmers who are losing their land.” He alleges the USDA was allowed to foreclose on farmers who wanted assistance from the debt relief program that would’ve been available under the law. 

Kennedy said the $5 billion isn’t just money but “entitlement.” “It’s money that was a loan that Black farmers were entitled to way back then and was stolen from them through discrimination,” he said. 

“You can testify it was personally stolen from you, and that’s what the court found.”

There are some parties involved that are against Kennedy’s ideology. Executive Director and General Counsel for AFL Gene Hamilton, who was one part of the lawsuit at the time, feels it’s not the government’s responsibility to pick sides — especially when it comes to race. “Any public official who thinks it is the government’s role to pick winners and losers based on the color of their skin does not belong in public office,” Hamilton said.

“This is the 21st century, and we need to stop living like we are in the 19th century before the Civil War.”