Trump-backed legal group sues for debt relief for white farmers
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 must have the opportunity to receive” USDA loan cancellation, said America First Legal Foundation by announcing the costume.
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 qualify for 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.
Advocates of the loan cancellation, like House Agriculture chairman David Scott, have said it would counter decades of systemic discrimination that made agriculture 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 continuing pattern of discrimination, unfortunately,” against 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 socially disadvantaged qualified 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 percent 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 loan forgiveness. Congress also approved $ 1 billion 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 address 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 veterans in hiring, for example.
Miller, a farmer and rancher whose family tree includes Irish ancestors, “is suing on behalf of all farmers and ranchers in the United States who are excluded from ‘socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers’ programs because of their race or their ethnicity ”. says the trial. He asks the court to prohibit the USDA “from implementing racial exclusions or discriminatory racial preferences” in its programs. Although he is a public official, 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 of directors that included Mark Meadows, a former Trump chief of staff, reported CBS News.
Its leader is Stephen Miller, known for his radical views on immigration while he was Trump’s White House adviser. The name of the group refers to a nationalist slogan adopted by Trump.
The trial has been awarded to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, whose court is a favorite forum for Conservatives, said the Texas Tribune. “Appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush, O’Connor has given Texas several major victories” over the policies of the Obama era.
To read the 255-page trial, Click here.