Lindsey Graham Says Pandemic Aid For Farmers Is 'Reparations'

Within the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package making its way through Congress is $5 billion in funds dedicated to support Black farmers. Those funds, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina argues are reparations. 

“Let me give you an example of something that really bothers me,” Graham said in an interview, “In this bill, if you’re a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120% of your loan, not 100%, but a 120% of your loan, if you’re socially disadvantaged, if you’re African American or some other minority, but if you’re white person, if you’re a white woman, no forgiveness. That’s reparations,” Graham said. “ What has that got to do with Covid?” 

John Boyd, Jr., Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, told CNN the money is “not reparations.” 

“What’s troubling for me,” Boyd began, “is that 49 senators…voted to pull the language out of this spending bill. So, here you have a group of people who can barely defend themselves, and instead of these senators voting to support a historic measure like this where I’ve been trying to get debt relief for Black farmers and other farmers of color for over 30 years,” Boyd said.

The funds go toward loan relief for “socially disadvantaged” farmers but, as reported in The Hill, the bill doesn’t include specific language barring white farmers from accessing the funding. 

“I never heard Senator Lindsey Graham speak out against discrimination [Black farmers face]... he represents a state where there are a lot of Black farmers and I never heard him speak out against discrimination, but he doesn’t want us to get any justice.”

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a South Carolina native, had a sharp rebuke for Graham’s statements as well, and gave insight into why the money was put into the COVID-19 relief package. “We’re trying to rescue the lives and livelihoods of people. He ought to be ashamed of himself. He knows the history in this country, and he knows what happened to Black farmers… Lindsey ought to be ashamed,” Clyburn said, during an interview on CNN, per The Hill

Boyd echoed Rep. Clyburn’s remarks too, running down the ways in which farmers of color have been methodically cut out of USDA programs and other resources, which has contributed to a sharp decline in land and farm ownership among Black farmers. 

Boyd added that Sen. Graham “didn’t read” the bill, highlighting that the money is for a various groups of “socially disadvantaged” farmers, not just Black farmers. “They need to look at history,” Boyd said of Republican lawmakers who disapproved of the funds. “From slavery to sharecropping to Jim Crow,” Boyd explained “Black farmers have been holding on.” 

Photo Credit: Getty Images 

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