Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers

Rep. James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who played an influential role in securing the party’s presidential nomination, was also a key voice in highlighting the black farmers’ experience and helping drive the incentive regulations forward, the staff said of Congress.

Funding aims to address longstanding discrimination issues in the Department of Agriculture – specifically, the refusal to give black farmers the same access to capital that helped white farmers overcome during difficult times in history. Minority farmers have faced other problems, such as lack of access to legal services that complicate the legacy of farms and lack of public investment in rural communities and reserves, including water supplies, roads, and transportation to produce farm produce to bring to the market.

These factors resulted in significant land loss. While the number of farmers in the United States has declined sharply over the last century as farms became mechanized and more people found work in factories and offices, black farmers suffered disproportionately.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the United States had 925,708 black farmers in 1920, which is 14 percent of the country’s farmers. However, as of 2017, only 35,470 of the country’s more than two million farms were operated by black producers, representing 1.7 percent.

Joe Patterson, 70, whose family has farmed the Mississippi Delta for decades, said discriminatory credit had put many black farmers around him out of business over the years and resulted in some lean times for his own family.

Frequently asked questions about the new stimulus package

How high are the business stimulus payments in the bill and who is entitled?

The stimulus payments would be $ 1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $ 1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $ 75,000 or less. For householders, the adjusted gross income should be $ 112,500 or less, and for married couples filing together, that number should be $ 150,000 or less. To be eligible for a payment, an individual must have a social security number. Continue reading.

What Would the Relief Bill do for Health Insurance?

Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become much cheaper. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, COBRA generally lets someone who loses a job purchase coverage through their previous employer. But it’s expensive: under normal circumstances, a person must pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the full COBRA premium from April 1 to September 30. An individual who qualified for new employer-based health insurance elsewhere before September 30th would lose their eligibility for free coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would also be ineligible. Continue reading

What would the child and dependent care tax credit bill change?

This loan, which helps working families offset the cost of looking after children under the age of 13 and other dependents, would be significantly extended for a single year. More people would be eligible and many recipients would get a longer break. The bill would also fully refund the balance, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill were zero. “This will be helpful to people on the lower end of the income spectrum,” said Mark Luscombe, chief federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Continue reading.

What changes to the student loan are included in the invoice?

There would be a big one for people who are already in debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on canceled debts if you qualified for loan origination or cancellation – for example, if you were on an income-related repayment plan for the required number of years, if your school cheated on you, or if Congress or the Congress President is wiping $ 10,000 in debt for a large number of people. This would be the case for debts canceled between January 1, 2021 and the end of 2025. Read more.

What would the bill do to help people with housing?

The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility benefits to people who are struggling and at risk of being evicted from their homes. About $ 27 billion would be used for emergency rentals. The vast majority of these would replenish what is known as the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by CARES law and distributed through state, local, and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This is on top of the $ 25 billion made available through the aid package passed in December. In order to receive financial support that could be used for rent, utilities and other housing costs, households would have to meet various conditions. Household income cannot exceed 80 percent of area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or residential instability, and individuals would be at risk due to the pandemic. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, assistance could be granted for up to 18 months. Lower-income families who have been unemployed for three months or more would receive priority support. Continue reading.

“When it all came down to this, it was a lack of funds that kept the black farmers down,” said Mr. Patterson, speaking on the phone from the cab of a tractor he’d stopped by the roadside. “If we had the same investments as the other farmers, a lot of black farmers would still be farming at this point.”

He added, “But because they didn’t have these resources, it got worse and worse every year.”

Anthony Daniels, a Democrat in Alabama’s legislature who serves on the board of directors of One Country Project, a democratic group focused on rural issues, said many black farmers still suffer from high levels of debt and that the incentive provisions would help them Repay loans and related taxes.

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