A federal judge made an extraordinary ruling when he accused the Biden administration of replacing one form of racial discrimination for another. The judge issued a restraining order against a recent Biden policy that allowed $4 billion in loan forgiveness for non-white farmers.
Wisconsin Judge William Griesbach, a George W. Bush appointee, also claimed Biden’s plan did not clearly demonstrate how minority farmers experience different hardships than their white counterparts.
“The obvious response to a government agency that claims it continues to discriminate against farmers because of their race or national origin is to direct it to stop: it is not to direct it to intentionally discriminate against others on the basis of their race and national origin,” Griesbach wrote.
The money for non-white agricultural workers is part of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that directs $4 billion in loan forgiveness through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The measure pays for up to 120 percent of farm loan balances for black, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian, or Pacific Islander farmers. White farmers would not be covered under Biden’s initiative.
Reports on the lawsuit went wide following the judge’s order:
The lawsuit consisting of 12 farmers, two of whom live in Wisconsin. Calumet County dairy farmer Adam Faust, who farms with both legs amputated after being born with spina bifida, and Christopher Baird, who owns a dairy farm near Ferryville in Crawford County have charged the Biden administration with racial discrimination.
“There should absolutely be no federal dollars going anywhere just based on race,” the farmer said.
“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.”
The Sentinel reported the USDA is still implementing the program but is reviewing what the restraining order means for its future.
”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,” a USDA spokesperson said. ”When the temporary order is lifted, USDA will be prepared to provide the debt relief authorized by Congress.”
Some 17,000 farmers and ranchers from all 50 states qualify for the assistance, according to the Sentinel.
The case in Faust v. Vilsack, No. 1:21-cv-528 for the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin.
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