Biden’s USDA aid plan prompts 2nd lawsuit, reaction


Biden’s USDA aid plan prompts 2nd lawsuit, reaction

The president of the National Black Farmers Association, John Boyd, Jr. is disappointed by a second lawsuit against the USDA attempting to stop targeted aid for black farmers and farmers of color. “I’m disheartened that after thirty years of trying to get that relief and other services for blacks and farmers of color who have been basically shut out of the farm subsidy program and farm lending, and farm ownership programs at USDA, that they would file lawsuits like this.”

John Boyd, Jr.

Dan Lennington with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is the attorney representing a group of white Midwestern farmers suing the USDA.  He says he might ask the court for an injunction, blocking USDA from forgiving loans and putting additional money in the accounts of non-white farmers until the court weighs in, “Because obviously, once the money goes out the door, we can’t ask people to give it back.”

Dan Lennington

Lennington says USDA has the right to cure its own racism issues, “But you can’t on the one hand say we’re trying to cure our own racism where we denied people loans, but on the other hand, forgive people who do have the loans.”

Lennington tells Brownfield he has talked with farmers across the country in the past three weeks who say they only want to have all farmers treated equally.  “You know what?  The weather doesn’t care what the color of your skin is.  The price of corn doesn’t care what the color of your skin is.  The price of your land, your rent, your fuel, your fertilizer.  All of these things affect all farmers equally and they think the government should treat them equally, too.”

A separate lawsuit has been filed by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, claiming sections 1005 and 1006 of the American Rescue Act would illegally provide benefits based on race.  Lennington says he has heard of other potential suits being filed as well.

Boyd tells Brownfield he is not against white farmers receiving aid and would welcome a discussion with the plaintiffs in the lawsuits about how to work together for equal access to USDA programs.  “Farming is the hardest occupation known to man, but it’s even more difficult when you face discrimination and unfair lending practices.  That has been a proven pattern at the United States Department of Agriculture.”

Lennington says there are precedents from the 1990’s when federal and state governments gave preferences to certain contractors based on their race, and all were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

He says USDA has a lot of hard work ahead if they proceed because they will have to go find all back loans that exist with all the banks involved.

Dan Lennington discusses the Wisconsin lawsuit against USDA’s targeted relief with Brownfield’s Larry Lee 5/4/21
John Boyd, Jr. discusses the Wisconsin and Texas lawsuits against USDA’s targeted relief, and his experience with USDA racism with Brownfield’s Larry Lee 5/5/21