The Biden administration’s federal loan forgiveness program for black and minority farmers was halted on Thursday by a federal judge on constitutional concerns because it excludes white farmers.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in April, citing the program’s discrimination of white farmers by excluding them from the program. Judge William Griesbach issued a temporary restraining order against the program. 

In a press release on Thursday, president and general counsel of WILL, Rick Esenberg stated, “The Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to condition and allocate benefits on the basis of race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm. The Biden administration is radically undermining bedrock principles of equality under the law.”

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Debt Relief Not For All

The original lawsuit, filed in early May, was filed in Green Bay and represented farmers not only from Wisconsin but also Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio. The original suit also sought to prohibit the USDA from using race as a consideration for loans.

Additional farmers from Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon, and Kentucky were included. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the $4 billion dollars in debt relief was for “black, indigenous, hispanic, and other farmers of color.”

Taxpayer dollars in the form of the USDA would cover 120% of any loan amount due that were made to minority farmers, and additional 20% would cover any taxes related to debt relief.

Wisconsin dairy farmer Adam Faust, who has two prosthetic legs, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “There should be absolutely no federal dollars going anywhere just based on race.”

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Response To The Judge’s Order

According to the Washington Post, in response to the Judge’s ruling, officials with the Department of Agriculture vowed to continue efforts for the relief in court.

Matt Herrick, director of communications for the USDA said, “We respectfully disagree with this temporary order and USDA will continue to forcefully defend our ability to carry out this act of Congress and deliver debt relief to socially disadvantaged borrowers. When the temporary order is lifted, USDA will be prepared to provide the debt relief authorized by Congress.”

The idea behind the debt relief for farmers and other agricultural workers of color was an attempt by the Biden administration to “correct long-standing disadvantages” faced by minority farmers in attempting in the past.

The Biden administration also contended that COVID-19 effected minority communities disproportionately, and therefore had more problems accessing relief programs due to alleged systemic racism. 

Secretary Vilsack stated, 

“Over the last 100 years, policies were implemented that specifically twisted in a way that disadvantaged socially disadvantaged producers. There’s no better example of that than the covid relief efforts. Billions of dollars went to White farmers, because the system is structured in a way that gives them significant advantages.”

Other proponents of the program said that it was a major step at correcting a century of mistreatment of black farmers. It was also described as “reparations for a long history of racial oppression.”

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Not Just Farms

It is not just white farmers who are feeling the impact of the Biden administration’s racial preferences

Back in May, Philip Greer, owner of Greer’s Ranch Cafe, lost almost $100,000 in revenue due to the pandemic. Greer applied for assistance from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program run through the Small Business Administration. 

In Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor found that the SBA was prioritizing applications from female and minority restaurant owners, and that Greer was, “experiencing race and sex discrimination at the hand of government officials.”

Judge O’Connor’s ruling read in part,

“The evidence submitted by plaintiffs indicates that the entire $28.6 billion in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund may be depleted before plaintiffs’ application can be considered for relief under the program.”

Judge O’Connor ordered the SBA to temporarily stop prioritizing applications from women and minorities over Greer. 

Greer’s lawsuit was backed by the America First Legal Foundation headed up by former Trump aide Stephen Miller.


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