Supporting Documents for Farm and Food File, Week of June 27, 2021

Background information for “This Time the Scoreboard Tells the Whole Story”

Farm and Food File for the week beginning Sunday, June 27, 2021

Faust v. Vilsack, civil lawsuit over USDA’s $4 billion loan forgiveness program

Temporary restraining order, Faust v. Vilsack, June 10, 2021

DOJ reply to June 10 ruling, Faust v. Vilsack

Judge halts USDA debt relief, DTN, June 11, 2021

Black U.S. farmers dismayed as white farmers sue to stop payments, The Guardian, June 22, 2021

Under Trump, USDA payments soared and rich got richer, Environmental Working Group, February 24, 2021

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One Comment on “Supporting Documents for Farm and Food File, Week of June 27, 2021

  1. Hello,

    I’ll start by saying I disagree with most of your observations and comments, which shows our different world views. It’s confounding, really, to know we came from similar demographic backgrounds and hold such different views or opinions. I also believe that our goals for our communities, country, and world are most probably the same; yet, our conclusions on how to get there remain, again, frustratingly disparate.

    After reading your column, “Scoreboard Tells the Whole Story,” I had to write my thoughts. Of course, firstly, the numbers you use from the 1920 and 2017 census are misleading. The 1920 census numbers are “colored” farmers, which include Asians, and Native Americans. (No mention of Hispanic farmers which is interesting in itself.) The 2017 census, if you include all minority farmers, shows 270,952 minority farmers. I found the 1920 census showing more than 44.9 million acres farmed by colored farmers (not 41.4 million). I can’t blame you about the numbers. When I looked at USDA’s 2017 census numbers, their total U.S. farm acres are 900.2 million. Totaling up the individual ethnicities, the U.S. total becomes 949.3 million acres. Which one is correct? If USDA can’t report things accurately… I guess it’s not surprising.

    Regardless of the discrepancies in the data reporting, I think your premise, same as USDA, that socially disadvantaged farmers have been discriminated against is completely wrong. As you start the article with a quote from John Marten, “…we keep score with acres,” let’s look at the true scoreboard. In 1920, white farmers averaged 166 acres per farm. Non-white farmers averaged 47 acres per farm. In 2017, there were 1,973,000 white farms with over 849.8 million acres. There were 204,510 non-white farms with just under 99.5 million acres the same year (using conservative numbers). That means in 2017, white farmers averaged 431 acres per farm. Minority farmers averaged 486 acres per farm compared to 47 in 1920. Instead of your “staggering 88% less,” they’ve experienced an astronomically 1,035% more a century later. We do have to compare that to the 260% increase that white farmers saw in the the same century; but minorities have definitely gained ground, literally.

    Which numbers do we use? Yours paints a dismal picture; which race baiters love to disseminate. Mine shows a different picture altogether. Here’s a lesson on what numbers can do to reporting. White farmers don’t even have an advantage when we look at the average farm size – that seems unbelievable; but the 2017 census shows it’s so. The premise that minority farmers have been “systemically discriminated” against is hyperbole to make political rhetoric. This rhetoric doesn’t help our country to move forward in the least. It just continues to create corrosive discourse and distrust in the greatest nation on earth.

    Happy Fourth of July, by the way.

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