With Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller as the plaintiff, a Trump-aligned legal group on Tuesday challenged the Congress-approved $ 4 billion debt relief plan for black and minority farmers, saying it was unconstitutional. “Americans of all races and ethnicities should have the opportunity to receive” a USDA loan rebate, said America First Legal Foundation by announcing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Fort Worth, says U.S. history is filled with discrimination against white immigrants based on their country of origin or religious beliefs, so white farmers should benefit from debt relief although they have not been included in the legislation. The aid was intended for socially disadvantaged farmers, defined as black, Hispanic, Native American and other minority farmers.
Supporters of the loan cancellation, such as House Agriculture chairman David Scott, said it would counter decades of systemic discrimination that made agriculture a 95% white occupation. In 1920, one in six farmers was black. Scott is drafting legislation to ban discriminatory practices at the USDA and create tax incentives to support sales of crops and livestock by minority farmers.
“There has been a pattern of continued discrimination, unfortunately” for black farmers since the abolition of slavery, Scott said at the North American Farm Journalists Online Meeting. “So we have to be bold here and do what is absolutely necessary to get the results we need.”
The USDA “will continue to provide debt relief to qualifying socially disadvantaged borrowers” while reviewing the lawsuit against it, a spokesperson said. The USDA is also in talks with the Department of Justice. The debt relief plan requires the USDA to pay up to 120% of the amount owed on loans made directly to disadvantaged farmers or by private lenders under USDA loan guarantee programs. The additional 20 percent would cover the taxes associated with the cancellation of the loan. Congress also approved a related billion dollars to improve access to land, address “heir ownership” issues and provide legal aid to socially disadvantaged farmers.
In its lawsuit, America First Legal said attempts to remedy past discrimination were themselves discriminatory and unconstitutional, although federal law and regulations are littered with provisions to help various groups or ensure fair treatment. . The government gives priority to military veterans in hiring, for example.
Miller, a farmer and rancher whose family tree includes Irish ancestors, “is filing a complaint on behalf of all farmers and ranchers in the United States who are excluded from the benefits of the” Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers “programs because of their race or ethnicity, ”the lawsuit says. He asks the court to prohibit the USDA “from implementing racial exclusions or discriminatory racial preferences” in its programs. Despite being a public servant, Miller participated in the trial as a private citizen.
America First Legal began operations three weeks ago with the backing of former President Donald Trump with a board that included Mark Meadows, a former Trump chief of staff, reported CBS News.
Its leader is Stephen Miller, known for his harsh views on immigration while he was Trump’s White House adviser. The group’s name refers to a nationalist slogan adopted by Trump.
The lawsuit has been handed over to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, whose court is the Conservatives’ preferred forum, said the Texas Tribune. “Appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, O’Connor offered Texas several major victories” over the policies of the Obama era.
To read the 255-page trial, Click here.