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Agriculture secretary: Black farmers received 0.1 percent of Trump administration farm relief

Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said that only 0.1 percent of coronavirus relief set aside by the Trump administration for American farmers went to Black farmers, according to a Washington Post interview published on Thursday.

Of the roughly $26 billion announced by the Trump administration under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, $20.8 million went to Black farmers, according to Vilsack. The Agriculture secretary told the Post that the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus worsened pre-existing gaps in the American economy.

“We saw 99 percent of the money going to White farmers and 1 percent going to socially disadvantaged farmers and if you break that down to how much went to Black farmers, it’s 0.1 percent,” Vilsack said. “Look at it another way: The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent.”

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The Post notes that only 1.3 percent of American farmers — around 45,000 — are Black, which it says indicates a drop of 1 million farmers over the last 100 years.

The American Rescue Plan included $5 billion for farmers of color. The Post asked Vilsack why the funds were specifically added to the Biden administration's coronavirus relief plan.

"Two reasons. One, you’ve got this systemic racism that basically put these people behind and they’ve never caught up. This is the beginning of addressing that issue. And second is the gap in the way the covid relief was distributed," Vilsack responded.

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban Overnight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution MORE (S.C.) criticized the American Rescue Plan's $5 billion fund for disadvantaged farmers in March, calling the money "reparations."

"In this bill, if you're a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent of your loan ... if you're socially disadvantaged, if you're African American, some other minority. But if you're [a] white person, if you're a white woman, no forgiveness. That's reparations. What does that have to do with COVID?" Graham said during a Fox News interview.

Graham's comments drew the ire of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who accused Graham of ignoring South Carolina's history of racism.

"We're trying to rescue the lives and livelihoods of people. He ought to be ashamed of himself. He knows the history in this country, and he knows what happened to Black farmers. ... Lindsey ought to be ashamed."