Thomas Burrell, president of the 20,000-member Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFFA), is scheduled to meet in Memphis on Monday (Nov. 20) with Black farmers and landowners about financial assistance set aside as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2021.
The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis Conference Center, 3700 Central Ave., and set to run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The aim is to bring awareness to the $2.2 billion dollars Congress set aside in for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners who experienced discrimination in the farm loan process before January 2021.
Burrell said the process to apply for the funding is complicated, noting that the application is 40-pages long.
“We believe this 40-page application is going to succeed in denying the African-American community justice and what other money is left over will be given to other farming communities, Burrell said.
“Why does it take 40-pages to decide whether or not the person who you admit you have discriminated against would have to use to qualify.”
Burrell filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to determine that the application is “arbitrary.” No decision has been rendered.
Burrell also filed a lawsuit in August to extend the application deadline from Oct. 31st to January of 2024. The day before the trial was to take place, the USDA extended it to January of 2024.
The Black BFFA also takes issue with the fact that farmers can’t receive money for deceased family members,who also were discriminated against by the department.
“This is un-American,” Burrell said about not being able to apply for deceased family members. “That’s what generational wealth is all about, leaving something for your children’s children, even if it’s the proceeds of the lawsuit.”
Burrell has been hosting awareness meetings with Black farmers in Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama and other states. According to BFFA, most of the people attending the gatherings were looking to get financial assistance for relatives who had passed away before 2021.