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African-American Farmers Make Up Less Than 2 Percent of All U.S. Farmers

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Corn and soybeans grow on a farm near Tipton, Iowa.

African-American farmers make up less than 2 percent of all farmers in the United States. They helm shrinking operations that are less profitable on average than those owned by their white counterparts—and, according to a new report, this decline is the direct result of discriminatory lending practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In an analysis released on Wednesday, the liberal think tank Center for American Progress found that black farmers lost 80 percent of their farmland from 1910 to 2007, often because they lacked access to loans or insurance needed to sustain their businesses.

“[The USDA] has a long and well-documented history of discrimination against black farmers,” the authors write. “The unequal administration of government farm support programs, crucial to protecting farmers from an inherently risky enterprise, has had a profound impact on rural communities of color.”

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