Five Midwestern farmers filed a lawsuit Thursday against the federal government for violating their constitutional rights. The farmers are from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Ohio, and have direct loans with the Farm Service Agency or USDA-backed loans and are “otherwise eligible for the loan-forgiveness program in ARPA, except for the color of their skin” states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit explains the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provides $4 billion to forgive loans for “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers. However, “the phrase ‘socially disadvantaged’ includes explicit racial classifications, according to the lawsuit, which states that in order to be eligible for ARPA’s debt relief, farmers and ranchers must be black, Native American, Hispanic, Asian American, or a Pacific Islander.”
The lawsuit addresses the inability of white farmers to be eligible. One of the farmers bringing the lawsuit told Fox 11, the program “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.”
“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 states.
However, “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.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture told Fox 11 that it was reviewing the lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice, but that the USDA plans to continue to offer loan forgiveness to “socially disadvantaged” farmers.