Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Vilsack held the same post for the entirety of the Obama administration and spent the interim years working as a dairy industry CEO.
During his confirmation hearing, he noted that things are different than his initial confirmation 12 years ago and that “the pandemic, racial justice and equity and climate change must be our priorities.” Black farmers and civil rights advocates will be waiting to see if Vilsack lives up to that promise: during his last term, the USDA distorted data to make it look like Black farming was on the rise, when in fact little had changed, and Black farmers received a lower share of loan dollars than under President Bush.
Why This Matters: Farming and agriculture are intertwined in the climate solution, and the Biden administration has promised to make them central to its climate plans. The administration has also made big promises on racial equality.
There’s an opportunity to take on both challenges simultaneously by investing in Black farms and working to correct decades of discrimination at USDA.
As Vilsack’s next round of leadership begins, there’s trust to rebuild as he prioritizes climate and justice as promised.
The racial farm gap: The number of Black farmers in the U.S. was highest in 1920 at nearly 1 million. Decades of racism, violence, and discriminatory lending and landownership practices decimated Black farms nationwide.
Now, that number is closer to 45,000, only 2% of the nation’s farmers, compared to 95% of American farmers who are white.
Black farmers make less than $40,000 on about one-quarter the acreage of white farmers, who bring in over $190,000 annually.
Farming as a climate solution: Agriculture amounts to about a quarter of total U.S. emissions, but methods like regenerative farming could transition farming from a net carbon emitter to a carbon sink. The USDA has the power to create policies that incentivize climate-smart agriculture. Paying farmers for benefits they provide beyond the food they grow — soil health, carbon sequestration, protecting pollinators — would put a dollar value on the many ways farms can help solve the climate crisis and provide a financial boost for farmers emerging from the pandemic.
As the Biden administration readies to enact an infrastructure plan, Congressional Republicans continue to lament that water pipes, EV chargers, and expanded railways “don’t count” as infrastructure. Yet, as Biden cabinet members have been saying: we need to expand our definition of infrastructure beyond roads and bridges to prepare our country for the future. As […]
Leading up to Earth Day and President Biden’s first Climate Summit on April 22, Gallup is releasing a series of environmental polls, and the latest has found that the opinion gap on climate change between Democrats and Republicans is only growing wider.
As our last interview of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Elizabeth Mrema, who leads the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We asked her about the importance of women in stemming the current biodiversity crisis and ensuring better outcomes in the CBD’s negotiations. Mrema said, “Having women at the negotiation […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.