$5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds for minority farmers being held up by discrimination complaints

North Carolina

RICHMOND COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) – When CBS 17 first spoke to Davon Goodwin back in March, the veteran and Purple Heart recipient talked about his devotion to farming. He spoke of his love of running the local food hub in Ellerbe that made sure people who couldn’t get out because of the pandemic got fresh produce.

He was elated that nearly $5 billion in COVID-19 relief money would go to minority farmers, but it hasn’t happened.

“Now that it’s halted, it’s kind of like justice denied,” Goodwin said.

Former members of President Donald Trump’s administration joined several conservative nonprofits to argue the program discriminates against farmers and ranchers because it excludes people solely upon their ethnicity or race. Challenges have been filed in several states.

A federal judge issued an injunction stopping payments until questions about the program’s constitutionality can be settled.

“I think reality sets in that this may be tied up for a while and I think the problem is farmers of color need this money now,” Goodwin said.

The stimulus money would include loan forgiveness, grants, and educational programs.

The USDA acknowledged the long history of discrimination against Black farmers. Goodwin said the pandemic amplified the struggle.

“It could be equipment, bills. It could be debt that you’ve taken out for seed, fertilizer — things of that nature. The longer this is halted, the worse it can get on your situation,” he said.

Despite the delay, Goodwin still offered hope to his fellow North Carolina farmers.

“The change is coming. It may not come as fast as we want it, but I think this is the right step and I do think. It will work itself out I’m very hopeful of that,”

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