Judge Stops Biden $4 Billion Relief Program For ‘Socially Disadvantaged’ That Excludes White Farmers
President Joe Biden’s $4 billion aid package for “socially disadvantaged” farmers, which specifically excludes white farmers, was blocked by a federal court in Florida on Wednesday.
The package was stopped by U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard, who said the scheme was tarnished by “governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.”
“Congress also must heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,” Howard added in her decision, stating that “it appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.”
According to Forbes, Biden’s American Rescue Plan “includes $4 billion in debt relief payments for farmers categorized as “socially disadvantaged” by the US Department of Agriculture, primarily farmers who are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American.”
White people are excluded, regardless of their economic circumstances.
Scott Wynn, a white Florida farmer who was severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic, sued the government for racial discrimination.
“Wynn argues that as a farmer of sweet potatoes, corn and cattle, he was hit hard by the pandemic, reducing his income, which mostly went to pay federal farm loans. He filed the lawsuit because he was not allowed to apply for debt forgiveness because he is White,” The Washington Post cited.
“This program is discriminatory because it bases eligibility for loan forgiveness solely on the basis of being a member of a minority group, regardless of your circumstances,” said Wen Fa, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation. “If you’re a White farmer, regardless of your circumstances, you are categorically ineligible.”
A federal court in Wisconsin put a temporary stop to the $4 billion program earlier this month, finding that the white farmers who filed cases “are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim.”
The USDA’s “use of race-based criteria in the administration of the program violates their right to equal protection under the law,” according to Judge William Griesbach.
“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,” a USDA spokesperson told NBC.
“The program was already temporarily on hold, due to a separate restraining order in a case by a White farmer in Wisconsin,” the Post explained. “However, even if that Wisconsin order is reconsidered or even reversed in July, when a ruling is expected, this new nationwide injunction would still keep the program on hold for some time. The Florida case is considered the first nationwide preliminary injunction, said lawyers for the group Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit in May.”
Judge Howard said “the Agriculture Department could continue to prepare to deliver the debt relief until the program is found to be ‘constitutionally permissible,’” the Post added.
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