Disadvantaged SC farmers can get debt relief in COVID-aid package. Here’s who qualifies

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Outside on his farm of more than 300 acres, where he and his family grow corn, soybeans, oats, barley, cotton and wheat, 69-year-old Nathaniel Rhodes reminisced of how Black farmers like himself had trouble getting loans to run their operations.

He said minorities would see higher interest rates than their white counterparts.

“We always … paid more or we will be turned down when our credit was better, or just as good … (because) of the color of skin,” Rhodes said.

And after a year where farmers saw less demand for their crops because of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhodes and his family, as well as other minority farmers, are set to receive some targeted relief.

Alongside Rhodes, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promoted a USDA loan forgiveness program for disadvantaged farmers, which was included as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Biden administration’s COVID relief package that became law in March.

Farmers who are Black, American Indian, Alaskan natives, Hispanic, Asian American, or Pacific Islander are eligible to have the USDA pay off 120% of loans the farmers were issued or guaranteed by the USDA.

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