Timeline: Black Farmers and the USDA, 1920 to Present
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of discrimination against Black farmers.
USDA records 925,708 Black farm operators – 14 percent of all U.S. farmers.
New Deal legislation to address low crop prices by reducing acres of farmland displaces many Black farmers.
Share of Black farm operators falls to 5.8 percent.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights finds USDA discriminated against Black farmers when providing loans and conservation payments.
Commission on Civil Rights finds Black farmers continue to face discrimination when seeking farm loans and assistance.
Commission on Civil Rights finds “Discrimination persists in the operation of some Agricultural programs,” noting that “there are also no civil rights staff in the [USDA] field offices.”
USDA report notes that Black and minority farmers are “disproportionately represented in poverty groups” and that these types of farms have less access to needed credit.
Share of Black farm operators falls to 2 percent.
Commission on Civil Rights documents discrimination that led to the decline of Black farmers.
Reagan administration dismantles USDA Office of Civil Rights.
House Committee on Government Operations report finds rampant discrimination in USDA loan programs.
Report by Westover Consultants finds USDA not held accountable for civil rights violations.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger files a memo detailing USDA’s authority to award monetary relief to Black farmers.
U.S. General Accounting Office report finds USDA fails to address racial discrimination.
General Accounting Office report finds widespread underrepresentation of minority farmers on county USDA committees.
Consultant D.J. Miller report finds Black farmers do not get fair share of subsidies, disaster payments or loans.
National Black Farmers Association holds demonstration outside the White House.
Share of Black farm operators falls to 0.9 percent.
USDA’s Inspector General documents a “climate of disorder” among civil rights staff.
GAO report on Farm Service Agency cites lack of diversity.
Congressional Black Caucus holds first-ever forum on discrimination against Black farmers.
Black farmers file historic discrimination complaint against USDA.
USDA publishes Civil Rights Action Team Report detailing a long history of racial bias and discrimination by the agency.
USDA report cites the role of the agency’s discrimination in the decline of Black farmers.
John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, brings his mule, Struggle, to Washington, D.C., to protest USDA treatment of Black farmers.
Settlement in Pigford v. USDA reached to pay Black farmers $1.03 billion. More than 22,000 Black farmers seek claims, but only 15,645 receive modest payments. More than 61,000 Black farmers file late claims, but only 2,585 are accepted.
Senate Agriculture Committee holds hearing on discrimination against Black farmers.
Commission on Civil Rights finds Black farmers wait four times longer than white farmers for farm loans.
More than 14,000 USDA discrimination complaints are filed between 2001 and 2008, but USDA finds only one has merit.
Black farmers rally outside USDA.
Share of Black farm operators rises to 1.3 percent.
Black farmers receive $21.2 million in farm subsidies; white farmers receive $8.9 billion.
EWG and National Black Farmers Association issue report on USDA obstruction of Black farmer settlement.
Share of Black farm operators remains at 1.3 percent.
Black farmers receive $38 million in farm subsidies; white farmers receive $10.6 billion.
EWG and National Black Farmers Association issue report on subsidy gap between Black and white farmers.
GAO report details failure to address civil rights claims properly at USDA’s Office of Civil Rights.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform holds hearing on discrimination by USDA.
Congress allows Black farmers originally denied payments from Pigford settlement to reopen their claims.
USDA reopens discrimination cases and finds 3,800 of 14,000 have merit but that the statute of limitations has expired. Only 760 cases are addressed.
Boyd drives a tractor around Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers to call for funding for USDA discrimination cases.
South Carolina court rules against USDA in favor of Black farmers who faced discrimination.
USDA Office of Civil Rights seeks extension of statutes of limitation for discrimination complaints but fails to persuade Congress.
Congress secures another $1.25 billion in payments for Black farmers previously denied payments.
The Pigford case’s monitor report highlights USDA’s failure to provide debt relief for Black farmers.
USDA reports that the share of Black farm operators rose to 1.7 percent.
Black farmers receive $64 million in farm subsidies; white farmers receive $8.1 billion.
USDA reports 9 percent increase in the number of Black farm operators.
Share of USDA lending to Black farmers falls to 0.8 percent.
USDA reports that the share of Black farm operators remains at 1.7 percent.
Black farmers receive $59.4 million in farm subsidies; white farmers receive $9.7 billion.
Legal experts find USDA has overstated the number of Black farmers.
GAO report details challenges faced by Black and minority farmers when seeking agricultural loans.
During presidential campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) releases detailed plan to address past and ongoing discrimination faced by Black farmers.
Black farmers and advocates send recommendation to Sen. Warren.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduce Justice for Black Farmers Act.
Sen. Raphael Warnock introduces bill to provide debt relief to Black and minority farmers.
GAO finds Black and minority farmers have less access to credit than white farmers.
House votes to provide debt relief to Black and minority farmers.