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White farmers suing USDA over program for socially disadvantaged farmers, farmers of color

Adam Faust, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said, "There should absolutely be no federal dollars going anywhere just based on race. The economic impact from COVID-19 didn't hurt any race more than another as far as agriculture goes."

Environment

Rod Bradshaw stands in a field on his farm near Jetmore, Kan., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Bradshaw, who claims to be the last Black farmer in Hodgeman County, is concerned that systemic discrimination by government agencies, farm lenders and the courts have reduced the numbers of Black farmers in the United States from about a million in 1920 to less than 50,000 today. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
By: Alyssa Wilson

A group of white farmers is suing the Biden administration over its loan forgiveness program for minority farmers. 

The lawsuit alleges that the program discriminates against them, BrownField AG News reported. It states, “The Constitution abhors classifications based on race . . . because every time the government places citizens on racial registers and makes race relevant to the provision of burdens or benefits, it demeans us all.” 

The American Rescue Plan provides debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers, including those who are Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino and Asian American or Pacific Islander. Any socially disadvantaged farmer with direct or guaranteed farm loans qualifies for help through the plan. 

John Boyd, the Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, said the plan offered farmers of color “long overdue justice.” 

Senator Raphael Warnock, who championed the initiative with Senator Cory Booker, said Black farmers represent only 2% of farmers. By contrast, Black farmers lost more than 80% of their land between 1910 and 2007. 

RELATED: After a century of land theft and exclusion, Black farmers getting needed government aid 

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) represents the group of white farmers from Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. They are asking the Department of Agriculture to stop applying racial classifications when determining a farmer’s eligibility for stimulus payments or loan modifications under the American Rescue Plan. 

Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel for WILL, said, “Conditioning benefits from the federal government on the basis of race is unconstitutional. WILL is committed to ensuring that the current threats to the bedrock principle of equality under the law, something that many generations have worked tirelessly to achieve, are challenged and fought.”