Study: Black farmers lost $326 billion in land value during 20th century

Discriminatory lending practices and forced land sales contributed to the loss of about $326 billion in land value for Black farmers during the 20th century, according to a new study.

The study was conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Boston and published in the AEA Papers and Proceedings publication. It is the first known study to analyze the current value of land lost by Black farmers in the U.S.

In 1910, Blacks owned about 16 million acres of farm land, mostly within 17 states. By 2017, land ownership dropped to 4.7 million acres, according to agricultural data.

The study cites discriminatory USDA lending policies and forced sales of co-owned properties as some of the factors that contributed to Black farmers losing their land between 1920 and 1997.

The Biden Administration introduced a $4 billion plan to provide debt relief to minority farmers, but it is currently stuck in court after being blocked by a judge last year. White farmers said the debt relief program was discriminatory.

Opinion: It’s hard not to wonder who currently owns the properties Black farmers lost? It’s not just 40 acres and a mule racist America will deny Black people. It’s likely ownership or the equity in those properties has descended to Black owners or their families, and that’s telling when looking at the state of the Black American economy.

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