Remarks from Sen. Doug Jones’ media call; Sens. Jones, Tim Scott urge USDA to immediately implement Heirs’ Property Provisions secured in 2018 Farm Bill


Special to the
Opelika Observer

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones offered the follwoing remarks during last week’s media call.
“Earlier this week, I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in introducing the Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act. This bill would create a small business start-up tax credit to help veterans start small businesses in underserved communities. Alabama alone has more than 42,000 veteran-owned small businesses. The men and women who have served in our armed forces deserve more than just our thanks. I believe that supporting our troops means giving them the tools they need to be successful when they transition out of uniform and into civilian life. This bill will help fulfill that promise by helping veterans who want to continue their service in a new way by starting small businesses in underserved communities.
This week is also the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, and I spoke on the Senate floor to honor Alabama’s contributions to this historic event. Thinking back to the moon landing and what a unifying event it was for our country has just underscored my belief that we all need to come together again to heal the divisions in our country in the same way we did in 1969 around our mission to the Moon. Like in 1969, it’s clear that our country is incredibly divided again. Many leaders in the national conversation are using divisive and sometimes downright racist rhetoric to try to achieve their political goals.
But folks, we have to resist the pull of the forces that are trying to divide us. We need to come together as one America and work together to live up to the lofty ideals our country was founded on. Attacking the patriotism of other Americans using hateful rhetoric and dog whistle messages doesn’t get us any closer to achieving those unifying principles. I believe that the arc of the moral universe will ultimately bend toward justice, but that will require each of us to stand up and condemn these kinds of attacks.
Every day, we have to resolve ourselves – no matter what the President is tweeting, no matter what is going on in the news – to choose unity over division. We have to choose to respect the dignity of our fellow Americans, even if we disagree with them on certain issues. At the end of the day, we are all Americans, and we all want this country to be the best version of itself. We need to set aside our differences and remember our collective pride in who we are as Americans. So let’s refocus on making our country one nation, united for everyone.”
Heirs’ Property
Provisions – 2018 Farm Bill
A bipartisan letter to the Secretary of Agriculture highlights the immediate need to collect data on issue, allow heirs’ property landowners to obtain farm numbers
In the letter, Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are urging the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately implement provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that would benefit owners of heirs’ property. Heirs’ property is land that has been informally passed down within families, often for several generations, and can often lead to legal complications and prevent landowners from qualifying for federal assistance.
The letter focuses on a provision that would allow heirs’ property owners to obtain USDA farm numbers and gain fair access to the department’s programs, removing a significant barrier to federal resources that African-American farmers and ranchers have long faced. Senators Jones and Scott introduced that legislation, the Fair Access for Farmers and Ranchers Act (S.3117), last year and were successful in their efforts to include it in the recent farm bill.
“Heirs’ property overwhelmingly impacts African-American land ownership, of which 60% is projected to be heirs’ property. Because a significant portion of U.S. minority-owned rural land was passed down through generations as heirs property, often without a legal title, these farmers and ranchers have been unable to obtain farm numbers and subsequent access to a multitude of USDA programs,” the senators wrote.
“The inability to participate in USDA programs has not only contributed to a startling negative trend in African-American land ownership but has also hindered African-American farmers and ranchers from experiencing economic equality,” the letter continues. “As representatives of states that are largely considered to be ground zero for this issue, timely and efficient implementation is paramount for heirs’ property owners.”
The letter also calls for USDA to follow through with a farm bill-mandated study about the impact of unresolved legal issues have on the ability of heirs’ property owners to operate their farms and ranches.


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