Minnesota farmers challenge Biden’s racist loan forgiveness program

"Our demand is simple: don’t discriminate against farmers because of their race," said one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours a water treatment facility in New Mexico. (USDA/Flickr)

A group of Minnesota farmers have sued the Biden administration over a controversial loan forgiveness program that “openly discriminates against white farmers.”

The program in question, included in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, has already been the subject of legal challenges in Wisconsin, where a judge temporarily suspended its implementation.

The Upper Midwest Law Center believes the Biden administration is “currently preparing to implement and will implement” the race-based relief program absent a permanent injunction.

That’s why it has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of seven Midwest farmers, most from Minnesota, who are “otherwise eligible for the loan forgiveness program in ARPA, except for the color of their skin.”

“Despite strong precedent against race-based classifications, in March 2021, the United States retreated from the principle of equality under the law by enacting a race-based loan forgiveness program in ARPA,” the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, Biden’s rescue plan provides billions in debt relief to “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers. Team Biden’s definition of “socially disadvantaged,” however, includes “explicit racial classifications.”

“To be eligible for ARPA’s debt relief, farmers and ranchers must be Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander. Other farmers — white farmers, for example — are ineligible,” the lawsuit explains.

It further argues that because the loan forgiveness program discriminates based on race, it violates the plaintiffs’ rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The complaint highlights a Supreme Court ruling in which the high court said that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

“Our demand is simple: don’t discriminate against farmers because of their race,” said Steve Nuest, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We simply want equal treatment under the law.”

The lawsuit names Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of the Farm Service Agency, as defendants.