Federal Judge Suspends Loan Forgiveness Program for Color Farmers

A federal judge has suspended a loan licensing program for colored farmers in response to a lawsuit alleging that the program discriminates against white farmers.

Judge William Griesbach of the U.S. District Court in Milwaukee issued a temporary restraint order on Thursday to suspend programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. ..

The program pays up to 120% of direct or guaranteed farm loan balances to black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, or Pacific Islander farmers.President Joe Biden’s administration has created a loan forgiveness program as part of $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 Pandemic Relief plan.

“This is a big problem for us,” said John Boyd, Jr., President. National Black Farmers Association, Told CBS MoneyWatch in March when the federal spending package was approved. “I think this is a great opportunity to help thousands of people.”

Black-owned farms declining in the United States


White farmers “can’t even apply”

Conservative Wisconsin Method and Independent Study Proceedings In April, white farmers claimed they were not eligible for the program and violated their constitutional rights. The company has filed suits on behalf of 12 farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon, and Kentucky.

“If plaintiffs are eligible to benefit from a loan exemption, they will make additional investments in their property, expand their farms, purchase equipment and supplies, or otherwise support their families and communities. You will have the opportunity to do so, “said the proceedings. “Plaintiffs are not even eligible to apply for the program just for race, so they have been denied equal protection of the law and have therefore been harmed.”

The application seeks a court order prohibiting USDA from applying racial classification in determining loan changes and payment eligibility under stimulus. We are also seeking unspecified damages.

History of injustice

Minority farmers have claimed for decades that they have been unfairly denied agricultural loans and other government support. Federal agricultural authorities in 1999 and 2010 settled proceedings from black farmers and accused them of discriminating against them.

According to Modern Farmer, the history of discrimination against black farmers in the United States dates back to 1920. That year, there were nearly a million black farmers in the United States, but now there are 45,000. The publication also states that black farmers tend to earn less and own less land than white farmers. Government reports have long made it harder for black farmers to secure loans and grants than for whites.

Almost all of the $ 9.2 billion bailout that the Trump administration provided to farmers last year went to white farmers, according to the Environmental Working Group. White farmers received $ 6.7 billion in payments for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, black farmers received $ 15 million, and Latin farmers received $ 100 million, according to EWG calculations based on USDA data. It was.

Stimulation fund to support black farmers


Spotlight USDA lending practices

Meanwhile, some lawmakers are calling for greater transparency from the USDA as a way to eradicate discriminatory practices.

Senator Bobby Rush of Illinois and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey this week call on USDA to track and publish information about the race and gender of all recipients of agricultural assistance from the Department of Agriculture. Introduced the law. The bill, called the Agricultural Subsidy Transparency Act, also requires disclosure of agricultural subsidies, agricultural loans, crop insurance, disaster relief, funding from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and assistance provided through conservation and forestry programs. ..

“It’s very important to stop the remaining discriminatory lending behavior in the USDA,” Rush, who was born on the farm, said in a press release. “To do so, we need to shed some light on USDA’s lending practices so that we can clearly see, understand and address existing inequality.”

Federal Judge Suspends Loan Forgiveness Program for Color Farmers

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