I began writing this on July 4, and it seemed fitting, since originally I wanted to write about how Black farmers had been discriminated against over many years, and how the American Rescue Plan that was signed into law this year was a step towards righting some of those wrongs. But that may be more the ideal of America than the actuality.

On June 24, 2021, a federal judge blocked a part of the Biden administration’s federal stimulus relief package that forgave $5billion in agricultural debts for Black, indigenous, and farmers of color. A white farmer has sued to overturn those provisions, claiming the program discriminated against him based on race. The Federal Govt. stopped the payments which were to go out in June.

In 2017, according to the USDA, only about 49,000 farmers out of 3.4 million across the country were Black. A century ago there were nearly one million Black farmers.

Agriculture was an intregal part of Black middle class life, and with a loss of 90% of their land came the loss of generational wealth.

Jeffrey Sauger photographed these farms in 2001 in Ohio, Virginia, North and South Carolina.

Jeffrey Sauger