White Farmers Continue Government Demand for Loan Forgiveness Indianapolis News | Weather Indiana


MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A group of Midwestern farmers sued the federal government on Thursday alleging they couldn’t participate in a COVID-19 loan forgiveness program because they were white.

The group of plaintiffs includes farmers from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Ohio. According to the lawsuit, the Biden administration COVID-19 recovery plan provides $ 4 billion to cancel loans to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who are Black, Native American, Hispanic, Alaskan, Asian Americans, or Pacific Islander.

White farmers are not eligible, which amounts to a violation of the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, the lawsuit argues.

“If plaintiffs were eligible for the loan forgiveness, 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. », Indicates the trial. “Because complainants are not even eligible to apply for the program purely on the basis of their race, they have been denied equal protection of the law and therefore suffered prejudice.”

The US Department of Agriculture released a statement saying it is reviewing the lawsuit with the US Department of Justice, but that the USDA plans to continue offering loan discounts to “socially disadvantaged” farmers.

Lawyers for the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty have filed a lawsuit on behalf of white farmers in federal court in Green Bay.

The filing seeks a court order prohibiting the USDA from applying racial classifications when determining eligibility for loan modifications and payments under the stimulus package. He also seeks unspecified damages.

Minority farmers have argued for decades that they have been unfairly denied agricultural loans and other government assistance.

The USDA in 1999 and 2010 settled lawsuits against black farmers accusing the agency of discriminating against them.

Yet less than 2% of the Trump administration’s direct loans in 2020 went to black farmers. And some black farmers have criticized Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for failing to address a backlog of discrimination complaints and for not hiring minorities for high-level positions.

Vilsack, who served under President Barack Obama and returned to the post after President Joe Biden took office, said in a statement last month that generations of socially disadvantaged farmers suffered from systemic discrimination and d ‘a cycle of debt. He has tried to assure minority farm groups that he will work to stem racism within the USDA.

Civil rights activists have hailed Biden’s stimulus package as a way to finally help farmers of color.

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