Losing Ground

Losing Ground

By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

In 2021, the Biden administration approved $4 billion in loan forgiveness for Black farmers and other farmers of color, as part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. The aid was supposed to make up for decades of discrimination. However, White farmers have sued, and that aid has yet to be paid out as the issue makes it way through the courts. 

Eddie Wise is one farmer who claimed to face discrimination. He was the son of a sharecropper. In 1996, he and his wife, Dorothy, bought a farm with a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Twenty years later, the USDA foreclosed on the property and evicted him. 

John Biewen of “Scene on Radio” teamed up with Reveal to investigate Wise’s claim of race-based discrimination. Wise’s story is one piece of the puzzle explaining how Black families went from owning nearly a million farms in 1920 to now fewer than 36,000.

The federal government has admitted it was part of the problem. In 1997, a USDA report said discrimination by the agency was a factor in the decline of Black farms. A landmark class-action lawsuit on behalf of Black farmers, Pigford v. Glickman, was settled in 1999. But advocates for Black farmers say problems persist.

This episode was originally broadcast in July 2017

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