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S. 278: Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act of 2021

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 8, 2021.

Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act of 2021

This bill provides funds for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide assistance to address historical discrimination and disparities in the agriculture sector.

For example, USDA must provide debt forgiveness to help socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers pay off outstanding farm loan debts and address issues relating to COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019).

Additionally, USDA must provide a competitive grant to a school of law or legal research entity to establish the National Center for Minority Farmer Agricultural Law Research and Information. It must also provide grants and loans to resolve property issues relating to ownership and succession on farmland.

The bill provides financial assistance to cooperative development centers, individual cooperatives, or groups of cooperatives that serve socially disadvantaged groups. It also provides financial assistance and technical assistance to certain nonprofit organizations that provide services to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

USDA must provide support for research, education, and extension at historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. It must also provide grants to land-grant colleges and universities for student scholarships, including for students who are members of Indian tribes and pursuing an agricultural field of study.

The bill also requires USDA to establish an equity commission to address and mitigate discrimination across its agency.