WASHINGTON – The National Black Farmers Association and the Environmental Working Group called on leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees today to increase transparency in federal farm subsidy programs.
The Department of Agriculture is barred by law from disclosing the identities of most farm subsidy recipients, as well as the generous amounts of taxpayer dollars these individuals receive each year through crop insurance subsidies.
In addition, NBFA and EWG urged Congress to investigate whether crop insurance subsidies had expanded the subsidy gap between white and Black farmers.
“USDA has a long history of racial discrimination, and crop insurance subsidies are likely reinforcing that troubling legacy,” said John Boyd, founder and president of the NBFA. “Until Congress reforms subsidy programs to make them fully transparent, we have no way to know whether the vast majority of subsidies still flow to white farmers, while ignoring Black farmers and other minorities.”
Last week, The Center for Investigative Reporting, relying on EWG farm subsidy data, reported that prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer and his family have taken in more than $2 million in federal farm subsidies for their Louisiana cotton farms.
“In light of recent revelations that someone like Richard Spencer is receiving farm subsidies, Congress needs to shine a light on these programs,” said Ken Cook, co-founder and president of EWG. “There are no limits and no transparency requirements for crop insurance subsidies. But that clearly needs to change when Black farmers who have worked the land for decades are largely ignored, and individuals like Richard Spencer reap millions.”