Federal judge suspends loan forgiveness program for farmers of color

A federal judge suspended a loan license program for farmers of color in response to a lawsuit alleging the program discriminated against white farmers.

Milwaukee U.S. District Court Judge William Griesbach on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order to suspend programs for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. ..

The program provides up to 120% of direct or guaranteed farm loan balances to Black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, or Pacific Islander farmers. Covid-19 pandemic Backup plan.

“It’s a big deal for us,” said John Boyd, Jr., president. National Association of Black Farmers, CBS MoneyWatch told CBS in March when the federal spending program was approved. “I think this is a great opportunity to help thousands of people.”

Black-owned farms in decline in the United States

08:26

White farmers ‘can’t even apply’

Conservative Wisconsin Method and Independent Study Procedure In April, white farmers claimed they were not eligible for the program and violated their constitutional rights. The company has filed lawsuits on behalf of 12 farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Oregon and Kentucky.

“If plaintiffs are eligible for loan exemption, they will make additional investments in their property, expand their farms, purchase equipment and supplies, or otherwise support their families and communities. You will have the opportunity to do so, ”said the instance. “Complainants are not even eligible to apply to the program purely on the basis of race, so they have been denied equal protection of the law and therefore suffered prejudice.”

The request seeks a court order prohibiting the USDA from applying a racial classification to determine loan changes and payment eligibility under the stimulus. We are also asking for unspecified damages.

History of injustice

Minority farmers have claimed for decades that they have been unfairly denied agricultural loans and other government assistance. Federal farm authorities in 1999 and 2010 settled cases against black farmers and accused them of discriminating against them.

According to Modern Farmer, the history of discrimination against black farmers in the United States dates back to 1920. In that year, there were nearly a million black farmers in the United States, but now there are. 45,000. The publication also indicates that black farmers tend to earn less and own less land than white farmers. Government reports have long made it more difficult for black farmers to obtain loans and grants than for whites.

Almost all of the $ 9.2 billion bailout the Trump administration provided to farmers last year, according to the Environmental Working Group, went to white farmers. White farmers received $ 6.7 billion in payments for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, black farmers received $ 15 million, and Latin farmers received $ 100 million, according to EWG calculations based on the USDA data. It was.

Stimulus Fund to Support Black Farmers

05:57

Shine a light on USDA lending practices

Meanwhile, some lawmakers are calling for greater transparency from the USDA as a way to root out discriminatory practices.

Senator Bobby Rush of Illinois and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey are asking the USDA this week to track and publish information on the race and sex of all recipients of Department of Agriculture Aid. Agriculture. Introduced the law. The bill, called the Farm Subsidies Transparency Act, also requires disclosure of farm subsidies, farm loans, crop insurance, disaster relief, funding for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and the assistance provided through conservation and forestry programs. ..

“It is very important to stop the discriminatory lending behavior remaining at the USDA,” said Rush, who was born on the farm, in a press release. “To do this, we need to shed light on USDA lending practices so that we can clearly see, understand and address existing inequalities.”


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