Unconstitutional or Not, RFK Jr. Pledges $5 Billion in Reparations to Black Farmers If Elected President

By: Georgia | Published: May 21, 2024

RFK Jr. has pledged a whopping $5 billion in reparations to Black farmers should he clinch the presidency in 2024. 

This campaign promise is aimed at correcting past injustices in the agricultural sector, particularly against Black farmers who have faced discrimination.

The Backdrop of the Promise

On his podcast, alongside John Boyd Jr., founder of the National Black Farmers Association, Kennedy voiced strong support for rectifying USDA policies. 

Advertisement
African American farmer in a black shirt and cowboy hat pointing at a field with black cattle, standing by a wire fence

Source: JWBoydNBFA/X

Boyd Jr. has been actively challenging the Biden administration’s handling of debt relief for minority farmers, pointing out the need for more robust support.

Advertisement

Stalled Support and Judicial Roadblocks

The intended debt relief for minority farmers hit a snag in the courts, stalled by claims from white farmers that the program infringed on their constitutional rights. 

Advertisement
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. raising his hand while speaking at a presidential debate, with an American flag backdrop

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kennedy’s response? A firm commitment to overturn these obstacles and deliver the promised funds when in office.

Not Money, but Entitlement

On the podcast, Kennedy made it clear that the $5 billion is “not money, that is an entitlement,” recognizing the historical debts owed to Black farmers.

Advertisement
A scenic view of a farm with a farmhouse, barn, and silo in a wide-open field, surrounded by bare trees and hills in the background.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He emphasized that these funds were long overdue, originally meant as loans and wrongfully withheld due to discriminatory practices.

Modifications Under Political Pressure

The aid program underwent significant changes after its initial proposal due to political pressure and opposition. 

Advertisement
President Joe Biden seated at a desk, signing a document with senators and other politicians applauding around him in the White House

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These modifications were incorporated in The Inflation Reduction Act, which restructured the financial support into two separate funds with altered objectives to cater to a broader demographic.

Legal Challenges Escalate

In a turn of events, a collective of farmers from nine states took legal action against the USDA.

Front view of the United States Department of Agriculture building, a large neoclassical structure with multiple columns and American flags

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They argued that the restructured program excluded white farmers, challenging it as a constitutional violation, leading to a significant legal standoff.

Advertisement

Judicial Setbacks

Judge William Griesbach issued a temporary restraining order against the program, criticizing it for failing to adequately justify its focus on minority farmers without imposing hardships on others.

A green John Deere tractor equipped with a red plow parked in a tilled field, with a backdrop of lush greenery and palm trees under a clear blue sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He remarked on the challenges of rectifying one type of discrimination without inadvertently creating another.

Advertisement

The Revised Financial Lifeline

Despite the hurdles, the revised plan allocated $2 billion to continue addressing discrimination, and an additional $3 billion to assist all financially strained farmers.

Aerial shot of farming equipment in action, showing two tractors, one green and one white, harvesting a field with distinct rows of crops

Source: Rob Mulder/Unsplash

This illustrates a broader approach to agricultural aid regardless of race.

Advertisement

Continuing the Fight for Justice

Boyd remains a staunch advocate, stating, “This fight is about the land, because we’ve lost so much of it.”

An African American man dressed in a stylish silver and black patterned suit with a white cowboy hat

Source: JWBoydNBFA/X

This highlights the deeper historical and emotional layers of the struggle faced by Black farmers and their fight for equity and recognition.

Advertisement

USDA's Shifting Stance

The USDA, initially supportive of the original plan, faced setbacks from legal challenges by white farmers, causing delays that pushed them to adapt their strategy.

An elderly Caucasian male official speaking at a podium with the United States Department of Agriculture seal, with American flags in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Spokesperson Marissa Perry emphasized the urgency in implementing the new provisions to ensure no further delays.

Advertisement

An Unresolved Legacy of Inequality

Black farmers have faced long-standing barriers to success, with systemic discrimination limiting their access to necessary agricultural resources and financial support. 

A community meeting in a large hall with African American attendees seated in chairs; a man in a black velvet jacket and cowboy hat stands prominently in the center aisle

Source: JWBoydNBFA/X

Efforts to address these inequities have been ongoing, with federal settlements in 1999 and 2010 acknowledging and attempting to remedy these disparities.

Advertisement

A Century of Decline

The stark decrease in the number of Black farmers—from one million a century ago to just 45,000 today—demonstrates the persistent challenges and inequalities faced. 

A group of protesters, including black farmers, demonstrating outside the USDA with signs, one reading "We Black Farmers" and another criticizing the USDA's civil rights program

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This demographic shift highlights the urgent need for targeted support and reforms in agricultural policy to reverse the trend.

Advertisement