A Chilton, Wisconsin, dairy farmer who has two prosthetic legs has joined four other farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and South Dakota to sue the Biden administration regarding a $4 billion plan inserted into the Biden administration’s COVID relief program that allegedly forgives loans for farmers and ranchers who are black, native American, Hispanic, or Asian, but does not do the same for white farmers.
The lawsuit states:
In March 2021, the United States retreated from the principle of equality under the law by enacting a race-based loan-forgiveness program in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Among other things, ARPA provides billions of dollars of debt relief to “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers. The phrase “socially disadvantaged” includes explicit racial classifications: to be eligible for ARPA’s debt relief, farmers and ranchers must be Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander. Other farmers—white farmers, for example—are ineligible.
Adam Faust, the Chilton farmer who was born with spina bifida and milks roughly 70 cows on his 200 acres, told Fox 11, “’It was just out and out racist, and I really don’t think that there should be racism allowed in the federal government at any level.” Speaking on Fox News, he added, “I mean, racism against anybody is wrong. We can’t have a government picking and choosing who they are going to give any program to based solely on the color of their skin. … Everything that we have all learned growing up is racism was wrong, and now, all of a sudden, the federal government seems to think that racism is acceptable in certain ways.”
Faust’s attorney Rick Esenberg echoed, “There is no such thing as benign discrimination. There is no such thing as a little ‘makeup discrimination’ to even things out. … I mean, look, we fought a civil war. We had a lengthy civil rights movement to acknowledge the principal that was in our founding documents, that we are all to be treated as individuals, and this really disturbing mood we have about equity instead of equality of opportunity will not end well.”
The lawsuit points out, “Plaintiffs are farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio who have direct loans with the Farm Service Agency or USDA-backed loans. They are otherwise eligible for the loan-forgiveness program in ARPA, except for the color of their skin. As white farmers, Plaintiffs are ineligible for this government benefit.”
“Were plaintiffs eligible for the loan forgiveness benefit, they would have the opportunity to make additional investments in their property, expand their farms, purchase equipment and supplies, and otherwise support their families and local communities,” the lawsuit contends. “Because plaintiffs are ineligible to even apply for the program solely due to their race, they have been denied the equal protection of the law and therefore suffered harm.”