WASHINGTON, DC, June 16 — Poor white farmers in America will live in debt, but farmers of color get their loans forgiven if the USDA underlings of the Biden administration have their way. President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 [ARPA] in March, but it didn’t get much attention at the time. It’s getting a lot of unwanted attention now that it’s been revealed that the plan is to pit poor farmers against each other based on their racial heritage.
Bob Carlstrom, president of AMAC Action, the advocacy arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], describes the USDA’s interpretation of the law as “shameful.
A poor farmer is a poor farmer.
His or her ability to survive financially is what counts. Skin color has nothing to do with it. Playing the race card in this manner is downright reprehensible and un-American.
All men are created equal, and that means that all poor men and all poor women, whether they are black or white, are equally needy. One might think that the Biden administration seeks to promote racial unrest rather than equity.”
Carlstrom says the decision to interpret the ARPA law the way they did is bound to have undesirable consequences. “It’s reverse racism at its best.”
It all came to light when a federal judge in Wisconsin declared a key provision of the law unconstitutional in a ruling he handed down last week. U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said in his ruling: “Plaintiffs [white farmers] are excluded from the program based on their race and are thus experiencing discrimination at the hands of their government.” He went on to note that, under Section 1005, ARPA requires that “the Secretary [of Agriculture] shall provide a payment in an amount up to 120 percent of the outstanding indebtedness of each socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher to pay off the loan directly or to the socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.”
The USDA’s Website specifically identifies those “socially disadvantaged farmers” who are eligible for debt relief to “include those who are one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander.”
The ARPA law set aside some $4 billion to pay as much as 120% of direct or guaranteed farm loan balances owed by “socially disadvantaged” borrowers– some 17,000 farmers of color.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department says it is not giving up that easily. The Department’s PR guy, Matt Herrick, told the Washington Post that: “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 Wisconsin lawsuit was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of the plaintiffs, 12 farmers, and ranchers from nine states. The Institute’s president and general counsel, Rick Esenberd, had this to say about the ruling:
“The Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to condition and allocate benefits on the basis of race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm. The Biden administration is radically undermining bedrock principles of equality under the law. We look forward to continuing this litigation but urge the administration to change course now.”
The USDA has decided to try overturning the judge’s ruling. They have until June 18 to respond to Judge Griesbach’s temporary restraining order. But his ruling appears to be the strong one in its simplicity. In his words, “Congress can implement race-neutral programs to help farmers and ranchers in need of financial assistance, such as requiring individual determinations of disadvantaged status or giving priority to loans of farmers and ranchers that were left out of the previous pandemic relief funding. But it cannot discriminate on the basis of race.”
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