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Illustration for article titled Debt Relief for Black Farmers at Risk After Federal Judge Files Injunction

One of the key parts of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan was $4 billion in funding to pay off debts for Black farmers who have historically been disadvantaged in their ability to obtain credit and federal grants. Obviously, white people don’t care about the historical context and the factors that led to this funding being necessary; they only see what they’re not getting, and as a result of a lawsuit filed by a white farmer, that much needed debt relief is now at risk after a federal judge filed an injunction on Wednesday.

According to the Washington Post, U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled that payments under the program must be halted nationwide. White farmer Scott Wynn of Jennings, Fla., filed the lawsuit alleging that he was also financially impacted by the pandemic and that the program discriminates against him by race.

In her injunction, Morales wrote that “Congress also must heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,” and added “it appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.”

“This program is discriminatory because it bases eligibility for loan forgiveness solely on the basis of being a member of a minority group, regardless of your circumstances,” Wen Fa, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation told the Washington Post. “If you’re a White farmer, regardless of your circumstances, you are categorically ineligible.”

A similar lawsuit filed in Wisconsin alleging reverse discrimination resulted in a federal judge putting a temporary restraining order on the Department of Agriculture. The Florida ruling is a bit more substantial, as even if the restraining order is lifted, the funds will still be unable to be distributed as a result of Morales’s ruling.

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My fundamental issue with this line of reasoning is that it ignores that the process is already discriminatory to Black farmers. If it wasn’t, this measure wouldn’t have been needed. Over the last century, Black farmers have lost more than 12 million acres due to a combination of systemic racism, biased policies, and business practices that have unjustly denied Black farmers equitable access to capital.

Adding insult to injury is that white farmers were the ones to most benefit from the pandemic relief funds previously granted to farmers. “White farmers received nearly $9.7 billion in pandemic relief in October of 2020 and socially disadvantaged farmers received less than 1 percent of that money,” Corey Lea, a beef and pork rancher in Murfreesboro, Tenn., told the Washington Post.


So, as with most things in this country, white feelings seem to be the biggest obstacle in fixing the longstanding issues faced by Black farmers. While Morales left the door open for the funding to be distributed once the program is found “constitutionally permissible,” John Boyd, a fourth-generation farmer and president of the National Black Farmers Association, found that to be unlikely.

“I am very disappointed to read this Florida decision,” Boyd told the Post.

Same here, man. Same here.

This content was originally published here.

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