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Congressmen announce legislation to ban the USDA from discriminating on the basis of race

They cite multilbillion-dollar provisions for nonwhite farmers in Biden’s COVID package.

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Utah Rep. Burgess Owens stands at U.S. Capitol on Jan. 4, 2021
Utah Rep. Burgess Owens stands at U.S. Capitol on Jan. 4, 2021
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Updated: April 3, 2021 - 4:23pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Two United States representatives this week announced legislation they said would bar the United States Department of Agriculture from discriminating against Americans on the basis of race and other characteristics.

U.S. Reps. Burgess Owens and Tom Tiffany on Wednesday announced the Agriculture Civil Rights and Equality Act, what they said would “prohibit officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture” from “discriminating or providing preferential treatment to any person based on race, color, national origin or sex.”

The congressmen in revealing the legislation indicated it was in response to President Joe Biden’s recent COVID stimulus package, one that the representatives said included “a $5 billion agriculture debt relief program earmarked exclusively for non-white farmers.”

“Farmers from all walks of life face tremendous challenges, especially as their industry navigates a post-pandemic economy,” Owens said in the announcement. “I’m deeply concerned that Congress feels emboldened to perpetuate a modern-day form of racial segregation rather than provide relief to those who need it most.”

“My grandfather, a respected farmer in the 1950s and ‘60s Black middle class, would be horrified by any policy that seeks to discriminate based on race,” he continued, adding: “Racism was and will always be wrong.”
 

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