A federal judge in Florida issued a preliminary injunction against President Joe Biden’s $4 billion relief program Wednesday for “socially disadvantaged” farmers that expressly excludes white farmers.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard halted the package in a ruling that suggested the program was marred in “governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.”
“Congress also must heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,” Howard wrote in her decision, adding 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.”
As highlighted by Forbes, the Biden-signed American Rescue Plan “includes $4 billion in debt relief payments for farmers categorized as ‘socially disadvantaged” by the United States Department of Agriculture, primarily farmers who are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian American.”
Whites, no matter their economic strains, are excluded.
Scott Wynn, a white farmer in Florida who was hit badly during the coronavirus pandemic, sued the administration 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 noted.
“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.”
As highlighted by The Daily Wire’s Ashe Show, a federal judge in Wisconsin ordered a temporary halt to the $4 billion program earlier this month, ruling that the white farmers who filed lawsuits “are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim”:
Judge William Griesbach ruled that the USDA’s “use of race-based criteria in the administration of the program violates their right to equal protection under the law.”
Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the USDA, told NBC: “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.”
“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 noted.