A group of White farmers had filed a lawsuit arguing the policy discriminates against them
A Wisconsin federal judge ordered a temporary halt to a $4 billion race-based federal relief program for farmers on Thursday.
A group of White farmers had filed a lawsuit arguing the policy discriminates against them.
Milwaukee District Judge William Griesbach issued a temporary restraining order, noting the White farmers “are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim” that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “use of race-based criteria in the administration of the program violates their right to equal protection under the law,” according to NBC News.
“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 continued.
The USDA said it disagreed with the restraining order.
“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 told Fox News. “When the temporary order is lifted, USDA will be prepared to provide the debt relief authorized by Congress.”
The $4 billion provision was part of President Biden’s American Rescue package, and the funds were to be used to pay up to 120% of “socially disadvantaged,” or Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American farmers’ outstanding debt. Twelve White farmers from nine states filed suit arguing that excluding them from the aid on account of race violated their constitutional rights.
“I think you have to take you back 20, 30 years when we know for a fact that socially disadvantaged producers were discriminated against by the United States Department of Agriculture. We know this. We have reimbursed people in the past for those acts of discrimination, but we’ve never absolutely dealt with the cumulative effect,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in May, defending the aid.
The USDA settled multi-billion-dollar discrimination lawsuits with minority farmers in 1999 and 2010.